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Gay Group Fails To Convince Ft Lauderdale Schools

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Gay Group Fails To Convince Ft Lauderdale Schools To Show Diversity Tape

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: July 27, 2005 2:00 pm ET

(Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Nearly 100 people crammed into a meeting of the Broward County School Board, but despite emotion charged support for a diversity video featuring the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, the board decided to uphold a committee decision not to show the tape to students.

In May, the Diversity Committee voted to reject the video saying it encourages kids to be friendly to potentially dangerous strangers, with several of the committee members voicing concerns it could lead some children to talk about being raised by same-sex parents.

"These people are trying to mess with our kids' minds and introduce all kinds of activities in the name of tolerance,'' said Steve Kane, a local radio talk show host and a member of the diversity committee.

Kane's remarks led to Equality Florida calling its supporters to attend Tuesday night's meeting of the Board.

"There were terrible, ugly, homophobic things said in that committee," said Equality Florida Stratton Pollitzer.

The concern of Pollitzer and other members of the South Florida LGBT community resulted in a public apology.

School Board member Robin Bartleman said she was concerned by the statements. Bartleman said she would bring in a resolution at next month's meeting reaffirming the board's commitment to diversity, tolerance and respect.

''There were unfortunate things said at the meeting. I repudiate those,'' said Marty Rubinstein, another board member. ``Any attack on the gay community I liken to the Nazi attack on Jews during World War II.''

The Anti-Defamation League, which produced the video which is shown in 61,000 schools throughout the country told the board that it is the only district that has refused to show the tape on the grounds it could weaken children's defenses against predators.

But, in the end, the board voted to support the committee recommendation not to show the video. The board decided that existing diversity programs were sufficient.

Two weeks ago Equality Florida released a poll showing that 80 percent of prospective voters would support legislation to prohibit bullying, harassment and violence in schools against students based on race, religious beliefs, gender, ethnic background or sexual orientation.

Earlier this year Florida state Representative Ken Gottlieb (D-Miramar) sponsored a bill which would have extended basic anti-bullying protections to students. The bill was defeated in a House Education Committee on a 9-2 vote.

"It's a law to protect our children," said Rep. Gottlieb. "Hearing that 80 percent of Floridians support it doesn't surprise me. That the Florida Legislature refuses to act on it surprises me. It's time for lawmakers to take this issue seriously and pass this legislation."

©365Gay.com 2005

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