A Florida community is reeling after hundreds of people came to a school board meeting to protest an LGBTQ protections policy that doesn't actually exist, following what appears to be a successful disinformation campaign.
The incident occurred in Lee County, Florida—where Fort Myers is located—after an informational poster released by LGBTQ-rights advocacy organization Equality Florida was misrepresented as advocating for unisex bathrooms and locker rooms in schools.
The poster does not advocate, nor does the school district have, any such policy.
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The Equality Florida poster inspired protests at a previous meeting as well.
When it came to light the poster was not affiliated with the school district or its policies in any way, the protesters changed to criticizing the school district's code of conduct, which protesters claim is overly focused on LGBTQ students. As is increasingly common with anti-LGBTQ sentiment, the protesters' focus was almost entirely on issues of transgender girls' use of bathrooms and their participation on sports teams.
But the school district's code of conduct, which is reviewed each school year, was passed last fall without opposition. And it contains no rules or stipulations about bathrooms or locker rooms. Rather, the district evaluates such issues on a case-by-case, student-by-student basis.
As for sports teams, the district defers to the Florida High School Athletic Association, which sets standards throughout the state.
Despite this, things reached such a fever pitch that protester Ryan Monroe had to be removed by Sheriff's deputies after an outburst in which he screamed:
"Keep boys out of the girls' room!"
The incident at the school board meeting was just one part of an ongoing right-wing assault on the rights of LGBTQ+ students in Lee County, Florida.
As with many anti-trans efforts around the country, the charge is being led by "devoutly Evangelical Christian" members of the Republican party or the clergy.
Their efforts have proven extremely lucrative for them in the way of monetary donations which leads many to speculate it has less to do with LGBTQ+ people and more to do with money.
Despite the protesters' disruptions, the majority of attendees at the school board meeting spoke in favor of the district's present policies, the work of Equality Florida and the formation of an LGBTQ+ student advisory committee in the district.