SEVEN YEARS — Members of DeLand-based LGBTQ+ advocacy organization DeLand Pride stood along the corner of Woodland Boulevard and New York Avenue in DeLand June 12 to mark the seven-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. At the time, the massacre, when a gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub, had the highest death toll of any mass shooting in the country. DeLand Pride was created in the wake of the Pulse shooting and was founded by DeLandite Dagny Robertson after her son lost a friend in the tragedy. The group began on Facebook, and grew from there. Now, DeLand Pride organizes citywide events and raises money for scholarships to award to local students. PHOTO COURTESY THE CANOVAS PHOTOGRAPHY

Editor, The Beacon:

The Volusia County School Board’s (VCSB) failure to recognize LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2023 implies a lack of support for students and families in the public-school system.

It is essential that our public schools create an inclusive environment for all students who invest their time in education and personal growth within these institutions, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Every student deserves equal treatment, recognition and support.

Nevertheless, anti-student-inclusion extremists have imposed their own political, cultural and belief systems on the VCSB system by submitting numerous, meritless book challenges. As a result, a vast majority of books that are censored are authored by LGBTQIA+ and people of color.

Extremists have previously influenced VCSB decisions on LGBTQIA+ inclusion. In March 2021, they asked the School Board to not approve a resolution for LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week March 23-26. The motion died without a second; the majority of the School Board failed to acknowledge that LGBTQIA+ are placed at higher risk of harm because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society. Isn’t it ironic?

This event signaled the ongoing tendency of LGBTQIA+ individuals to be absent from public recognition.

VCSB should openly support LGBTQIA+ diversity throughout the year to make all students feel safe and valued beyond the School Board’s website. Acknowledge them. Recognize their Pride Month.

Sheila Zinkerman

Laurel Robinson

Citizens for Truth and Justice in Education

Ormond Beach


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