School board actions on LGBTQ+ issues set Brevard back decades: Letters, Nov. 27, 2022

Dr. Mullins is 'an excellent, exceptional educator'

I was asked if I thought our superintendent of schools should have been terminated by the new school board (Dr. Mark Mullins offered to step down before a vote was taken to replace him).

The answer is a resounding "No."

Thank you for your service of 30 years in education, Dr. Mullins. You were an excellent, exceptional educator. This school board made a terrible mistake from Day 1.

Our four children attended public schools in Chicago, Indiana, and Brevard. All graduated from public universities in Florida. We worked with the teachers, not against them. Everything starts in the home: People need to stop blaming the teachers for their children's behavior and failures.

There was a time when we could all agree to disagree respectfully and peacefully. We need a kinder, gentler, more mindful world . We are the environment in which we live.

The culture wars have no place in our schools — every child deserves a quality education that we all pay for and  well-educated nation is a well-informed nation.

This is a good time to remind everyone: Voting has consequences.

Seeta Durjan Esmailbegui, Melbourne

Kevin Siers
Kevin Siers

'We are entering a dark age in Brevard County'

After witnessing the prejudiced and harmful decisions being made by our new school board, I am not only appalled by their atrocious behavior and choices but also completely and utterly scared.

Scared for my classmates who will have to learn in an environment where bigotry is the

norm. Scared for my sister who may be forced to hide who she is because the culture of our district values intolerance over inclusion. Scared for my mother, a media specialist, who is being forced to make her library reflect a single viewpoint rather than fostering a space that values diversity and critical thought. The changes to the bathroom policy is both illegal and a blatant example of how the new board is attempting and succeeding to silence the voices of LGBTQ+ students and prioritizing an invidious narrative rather than making sure our students feel safe at school.

We are entering a dark age in Brevard County. The people we have elected to advise and make decisions for our students are using their positions of power to condemn and suppress students and teachers alike. The culture of our community has shifted to one that is hateful and goes against everything most of my peers and I believe. I hope for the sake of future students and my family that people wake up and recognize that the actions of the school board go against almost all principles of kindness, compassion, and basic human decency.

Samantha Mason, Rockledge

Board disregards transgender students' safety

"The School Board of Brevard County, Florida does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation, transgender status, or gender identity …” until now.

Based on zero verified complaints, the board has decided, against federal law, to not allow trans kids to use the bathroom of their gender identity. If they really wanted to do the thoughtful, loving thing, for any child who wants to avoid being in the restroom with a trans person, a gay person, or for any other reason, they could use a separate, private restroom. That way they could make everyone comfortable and still protect the privacy of the trans kids. After all, the fearful straight cis kids (or their parents) are the ones with the concerns, not the trans kids. Otherwise, next they will require all cis gay kids to use a separate restroom. And how will they identify the gay kids who aren’t “out”?

The current policy is not only going to make the trans kids feel unwanted, and unsafe. It's also going to result inevitably in trans kids being harmed or harming themselves, without even solving all the concerns of LGBTQ-phobic kids or parents.

Is theirs really the best solution for all the kids? I don’t think so.

Frank Spence, M.D., Elkins, N.C., is a former Brevard resident.

Brevard County headed back in time

Let me start by saying that I do not have children. I showed up at the Nov. 22 school board meeting as a concerned citizen who wanted to see how the new school board was going to behave. It did not take long for me to be disappointed.

Gene Trent wanted to discuss the banning of books. Oh joy! Then it happened … bam. Megan Wright made a motion to fire our superintendent, Dr. Mullins. My eyes darted around the room and my heart began to race. There were shouts coming from all over the room. In a flash it was over. In a 3-2 agreement to replace him (he volunteered to step down before a vote) he was to be gone. Susin tried to save face by saying it would be a mutual separation. It was done.

The crowd cried out in disapproval. I realized I was shaking and started to tear up. I was filled with anger and sadness all at once. Then came discussing the bathroom issue for LGBTQ+ students. Each board member made remarks; Jennifer Jenkins used her time to read into the record the trans people who’ve been killed this year across the country. Just after that, Gene Trent used his time only to make the insulating comment that "One thing I think we can all agree on, is that mental illness is alive and well, and I pray we can do something about it here on this board."

And then it was over. No vote, just adjournment. We were left confused. My heart is broken for our community. Today the Space Coast moved backward a few decades and this is only the beginning, folks.

Jason McCloy, Cocoa Beach

'All students need to feel that they belong'

I am very concerned for the safety and well-being of LGBT students within Brevard Public Schools. School board members, Matthew Susin, Katye Campbell, Gene Trent, and Megan Wright have put in discriminatory policies that harm LGBT students, specifically transgender students. Within the community, we just mourned the 74 lives lost due to transgender discrimination and violence across the country. Discrimination killed these individuals and now we have discriminatory policies within our school system.

After board member Jennifer Jenkins read the names of transgender people killed nationwide, board member Gene Trent said, "One thing I think we can all agree on is that mental illness is alive and well, and I pray we can do something about it here on this board.” With the school board taking away student protections, removing the LGBT support guide, removing access to restroom facilities, and hushing everyone about anything LGBT-related, it sure would make a kid feel like their existence is not wanted or accepted.

All students need to feel that they belong. These kids hurt no one and deserve to live their lives free from bullying and discrimination. Since the safety and well-being of students is at risk, we need to come together as a community to take action and rise against hate.

Gabe Iocovozzi, Melbourne

No: Florida is not out of step with nation

A recent misguided letter writer from Merritt Island contends Florida and its election results are “out of step” with the nation and don’t represent the right direction. The problem with his narrative is that he didn’t address the actual “issues” that the Florida citizens decided upon with their votes.

He used the typical Democrat playbook to talk about personalities, conspiracies, and anything “but” the critical issues and failed policies. If Florida is “out if step," then his beliefs must be contrary to Florida voters' opinions, and all is well with the rest of the nation. So it would have been more informative and educational to hear his defense of the issues that Florida voters rejected.

Issues such as coercing ESG policies on business and government agencies, cancel culture, wokeness, domestic energy policies, free speech, education and “domestic terrorist” parental rights, the border crisis, drug influx, biased non-enforcement of established laws, radical DAs and crime, massive illegal immigration, irrational government spending, economic policies, confronting China, biased DOJ and FBI, and the list goes on.

Please sir, educate us on the important issues, not political rhetoric.

William Alford, Melbourne Beach

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a rally on Nov. 4 on the grounds of the American Muscle Car Museum on Sarno Road in Melbourne, as part of his "Don't Tread on Florida" reelection campaign.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a rally on Nov. 4 on the grounds of the American Muscle Car Museum on Sarno Road in Melbourne, as part of his "Don't Tread on Florida" reelection campaign.

Yes: Florida is very much out of touch

Once again, the GOP has shown that their interests are not to “Make America Great Again." Instead, they wish to waste Americans time and money on such things as law-suits against the current president's son and discrediting any and all of Biden’s accomplishments.

The midterm results were quite informative. Although many fought back with their votes to stop much of the authoritarian control and disbelief in all election results (unless they are favorable to the GOP), it appears Kevin McCarthy and others seem committed to “my way or the highway."

In a Nov. 20 letter to the editor, the writer stated that Florida stands as the GOP stronghold. His letter was sad, but true. Florida is very out of touch with most of the country. I hope that both parties promote forward-thinking, positive leaders in the 2024 election.

John Buscemi, Viera

Why must liberals use ad hominem attacks?

Is it not possible for some liberal contributors to express their opinions without abusive ad hominem? Rather than explain or justify, they just dismiss conservative views as “fascist." They use words  like “anti-woman," “anti democratic," “autocrats" and “pariah."  Divisive words like “Nazis” and “racist” appear way too often. Rarely do I read an explanation or argument.  Never do I find specific objections or alternatives.

Perspective is non-existent.

Perhaps a simple truth would be of some value.  Our republic is very evenly divided. With rare exceptions major political contests are being decided by very small margins. There is no national consensus. No “handwriting on the wall."

Here is a fact: Our democracy is alive and well. We have protests and complaints but our system works. It worked in 2020. And it worked in 2022.  There was and is no “threat to democracy." But decency and tolerance are under duress. The challenge for all of us is to accept and try to understand each other. To express our opinions rationally.  And regardless of party differences, for all of us to pitch in and help the leaders we elect keep America secure, prosperous and free.

Dave Riemondy, Indialantic

President's student loan plan deserves to stand

There have been many complaints (and lawsuits) about the president's desire to forgive a small amount of student debt ($10,000 to $20,000 per eligible American).

I wonder if these same dissenters felt the same way when almost $800 billion was forgiven for PPP.

Let's compare.

1. Many forgiven PPP loans were to the tune of much more than $10,000, some being more than a million dollars.

2. Several members of Congress were recipients of PPP, including Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who received more than $183,000 (all forgiven).

3. 91% of these PPP loans were completely forgiven as opposed to a small portion of many school loans.

4. There was apparently no income cap with PPP loans as opposed to $125,000 cap with school loan forgiveness. Many of the recipients of PPP "loans" were quite wealthy.

5. Reportedly, school loan forgiveness would cost about $400 billion — half of the cost of PPP forgiveness.

Even this small amount of aid would mean so much to so many. I truly hope the DOJ wins their appeal in favor of Americans who are struggling for an education and PPP forgiveness should certainly be a precedent.

Susan Termini, Merritt Island

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and U.S. President Joe Biden hold a meeting on the sidelines of the COP27 summit, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, on Nov. 11, 2022. Biden arrived at the UN climate talks armed with major domestic achievements against global warming but under pressure to do more for countries reeling from natural disasters.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and U.S. President Joe Biden hold a meeting on the sidelines of the COP27 summit, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, on Nov. 11, 2022. Biden arrived at the UN climate talks armed with major domestic achievements against global warming but under pressure to do more for countries reeling from natural disasters.

Climate meeting full of same old promises

Well, the UN climate meeting (COP 27) in Egypt is over. Nothing new on emission reductions, but more of the same promises by all the countries.

They did, however, agree on something called the "Loss and Damage" fund. This is money paid to poor countries (vulnerable nations) for damage due to climate change.

Originally, in 2015, a fund of $100 billion per year was sought. to be funded by all participating countries (155 of them). They missed their mark by hundreds of billions of dollars to date. Originally the UN figured the U.S. would donate most. But that did not happen (Trump pulled out). The reports out of Egypt, especially by the scientists, are grim as to reach any noticeable global temperature decline in the foreseeable future.

We will see how the media presents the data. Probably as a John Kerry success.

Jack Golden, Viera

Go-round with IRS was confusing, but I paid

Well, the Biden administration sure did the right thing hiring the 87.000 IRS agents. It should help to bring in a lot more revenue for the government.

I found that out very recently, when last year they sent me a notice that $40 was a credit that could be entered on my return for 2021. I did just that and then they sent a notice wanting to know what the $40 was on my return.

I sent in my check for money owed with my 2021 return and then they could not find it.

Now I just received a notice that I owed them interest and penalties for non-payment of taxes owed.

I am so confused. So I resent them another check of my taxes owed minus the interest and penalties.

I am fairly sure this will definitely confuse them, but if they were researching my first 2021 submission, why should I pay any penalties or interest when they had my first return and were looking for my first check?

Perhaps one of the 87,000 agents or all of them can help find my missing first check.

I certainly hope so, and then I could receive a notice to add that amount as a credit to my next return.

And then it starts all over again. At least I was being a good citizen by paying what I owe.

I doubt that the millions of immigrants here illegally are paying their fair share on taxes owed. Think of the money the government could recoup if they went after those individuals.

Bruce Mochwart, Melbourne

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Culture wars don't belong in our schools: Letters, Nov. 27, 2022