PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Something that was once a routine part of school board meetings has now become controversial.
The Palm Beach County School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a proclamation declaring October LGBTQ+ History Month.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
"Despite what is going on in many of the discriminatory laws that have been passed, the School District of Palm Beach County is standing by its LGBTQ students. And that's a huge deal," said Michael Riordan, who works at Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center in Lake Worth Beach.
The center is a safe space for all to be themselves.
Riordan is grateful the Palm Beach County School Board declared October LGBTQ+ History Month.
"It's more necessary now than it ever has been," Riordan said.
Proclamations are typically routine and uneventful. But last month, the Miami-Dade County School Board voted not to make the same proclamation after hours of public comment and fears of violating the state's controversial Parental Rights In Education law, known by critics as "Don't Say Gay."
The legislation restricts how sexual orientation and gender identity are taught in schools.
"We have to focus on what our core responsibility is, which is to educate or students on their core subjects. Math, English, science, and history. And we know there are many students who have fallen behind," Miami-Dade County School Board member Roberto Alonso said at last month's meeting.
That led some to worry that Palm Beach County would follow suit.
So what does it mean to have a LGBTQ+ History Month?
In part, the proclamation said "we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBTQ+ Americans" and "the School District of Palm Beach County is committed to the academic success of all youth, and to removing barriers to that end, and we believe that LGBTQ+ youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment or discrimination."
READ: LGBTQ+ History Month Proclamation
"This is strong language," Riordan said. "And what does it say? When you boil it down, we're not going to discriminate against any of our youth and any of our students. And it's wild that it needs to be said, but it needs to be said."