Brevard school board votes to adopt LGBT anti-discrimination policy

Measure officially protects gay students from discrimination

VIERA, Fla. – A controversial proposal is now school board policy in Brevard County.

Tuesday, ending a debate that began in 2014, Brevard Public Schools board members voted 3-2 to approve the district's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender anti-discrimination policy.

It bans discrimination against students and staff because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Supporters said the policy will help stop bullying against LGBT students and stop discrimination against hiring LGBT staff.

There were also dozens of opponents speaking at Tuesday's meeting. They said the rules in the books right now are good enough to stop discrimination and bullying and district staff should be enforcing them more strongly.

The chairman of the school board disagreed with those who opposed the policy.

"It's also been said that the current policy covers everyone. I don't see it," said Chairman Andy Ziegler, who voted in favor of the policy.

Dozens of supporters wearing red erupted in cheers the moment the vote came in. Supporters included students, parents, teachers and alumni of Brevard schools.

"I'm happy that we get to start this school year with a form where we get to be free from discrimination and live life with dignity. This is great," Heritage High School teacher Daniel Wall-Desousa said.

"Finally, after 44 years, I don't have to feel ashamed to be who I am," said Bill Rettinger, who graduated high school in 1972.

"LGBT youth have a three times greater chance of committing suicide. If we can save one youth from killing themself, then all of the fights are worth it."

Brevard Public Schools becomes the 15th district in the state to adopt an LGBT anti-discrimination policy.

Along with a majority of board members, Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Desmond Blackburn also voiced his support for the policy Tuesday.

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