Facebook Twitter

One ‘no’ vote sank Pride Month recognition in the Detroit school district

A Pride Flag hangs from a building, with a Pride banner on the window behind it.

A Detroit school board resolution to recognize Pride Month failed by a single vote on June 14.

Catherine McQueen / Getty Images

The Detroit school board failed to adopt a resolution that would have recognized June as Pride Month during its June 14 board meeting. 

Three board members — Deborah Hunter-Harvill, Georgia Lemmons and Angelique Peterson-Mayberry — voted in favor of recognizing Pride Month, but Corletta J. Vaughn voted against, Detroit Documenters reported. Three board members were absent. And because all resolutions require a majority of the full board to pass, or four votes, this one failed.

Board members Sonya Mays and Misha Stallworth were absent from the meeting. Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo attended the meeting but left early, before the vote took place, according to board secretary Vania Moore. Stallworth said she was out on maternity leave and just returned to the office Friday morning. The others have not yet responded to a request for comment.

The resolution was for the Detroit Public Schools Community District to support the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically LGBTQ+ students from the district. Vaughn asked whether this resolution was required in order for districtwide Pride events to occur, to which Superintendent Nikolai Vitti answered no. 

“It’s not about authorizing the event. It’s about recognition of it being National Pride Month, and the board recognizing the unique identity of all students,” Vitti said. “That’s essentially it — no different than we recognize other students and their unique differences.”

Vaughn then asked if there were resolutions for others with “differences,” to which another official at the meeting mentioned a resolution adopted in March recognizing Arab American Heritage Month. 

Vaughn did not respond to a request for comment.

The Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, which provides trauma-informed services for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color, sent an emailed statement to Outlier Media on Monday expressing its dismay in the board’s decision. 

“Ruth Ellis Center is disappointed that the Detroit Public School Board did not pass a resolution to recognize Pride Month, as visibility and allyship are critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students,” said Mark Erwin, the center’s interim co-executive director. 

The center hosted a table at the district’s 2nd Annual Pride Festival on June 18, and said that support for the LGBTQ+ community must not be limited to just the month of June.

“Intentional action, in favor of an inclusive learning environment for all students, is a choice every school must make each and every day,” Erwin said. “We look forward to working with Detroit Public Schools Community District in achieving that goal.”

Vitti said in a statement Monday afternoon that the resolution will be placed on next month’s agenda for another vote.

Detroit Documenters Byron Keys and Eric Walton contributed reporting to this story. Find all their notes from the June 14 DPSCD school board meeting here. Learn more about becoming a Detroit Documenter here.

Malak Silmi is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Reach her at malak@outliermedia.org.

The Latest
Republicans view the plan as election-year pandering and are unlikely to pass it before kids go back to school.
Tips about planned school attacks rolled in after Oxford High School shooting.
The scramble for Montessori seats is in some senses a welcome sign for the Detroit Public Schools Community District
Programs fast-track training, but some worry that they risk shortchanging students
District taps COVID relief funds to support family-friendly Summer on the Block events, summer programming and door-to-door outreach
Supporters say the program would empower parents, but critics say the scholarships could undermine traditional public schools