Politics

FL school board member takes children to an inclusive restaurant, conservatives outcry ‘gay bar’

“I was SO honored to be invited to chaperone Wilton Manors Elementary’s field trip to the incredible Rosie’s!” she posted on social media. “The students and I had a fun walk over and learned a lot about our community! A huge thank you to Rosie’s Bar and Grill for hosting this special field trip every year!”

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Of course, nothing about that sounds wrong but because the restaurant is inclusive, serves alcohol, and is LGBTQ-friendly, Fox News took to calling it a gay bar. Calling the restaurant a gay bar sparked online debates as to whether the trip was appropriate for young children, even with parental permission.

It also made people question whether the issue was that the restaurant served alcohol or was inclusive to all people. 

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No one though seemed to ask those who attended how they felt about it.

“Basically, we went over there, we ate and had some fun. We all wore, like, matching shirts,” 9-year-old Patrick White told WSVN.

“They go there and eat. They just go have lunch. I think it just makes them feel like big kids,” the boy’s mother added.

While the majority of parents whose children had attended had no issue with the trip, those who read Fox News’ article and saw the trip photos online did. Seems like the rainbow flags triggered some conservatives to speak up about the “rights” of random children.

“Taking children to a gay bar? What the hell is wrong with you people? You’re an absolute disgrace,” one of the hundreds of comments posted said.

Even the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, chimed in.

“Broward School Board member takes little kids to a gay bar on a field trip, forcing them to wear masks “to keep them safe,” Pushaw wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday. Pushaw has repeatedly spoken up against wearing masks in the classroom.

It being Florida, things took a dramatic turn. “The Florida Department of Education is aware of the situation in Broward County. We have an investigator going down there today to determine if there is a legally sufficient complaint,” said Jared Ochs, a spokesman for Florida’s Department of Education.

These reactions not only stirred up hate against the school board member who posted the photos, but against the restaurant’s owners as well.

“It’s a really nice event,” Rosie’s co-owner John Zieba said.

Children order from a kid-friendly menu and learn how to pay and tip waitstaff. “They talk about what they’re eating and how to order and how they want their food — if they want something on the side,” Zieba said, “so it’s a great experience for them.”

“It’s really such a cool experience to see the kids’ faces light up, and how excited they are when their food comes, or when they get the bill,” Zieba added. “You can just see that they’re just enjoying themselves.”

But while the children had fun and even got to paint pumpkins, the hate the restaurant has received just for having an LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere has resulted in it having to call local police.

Local residents of the area chimed in, noting that there had been no issue prior to this field trip with the establishment.

“There’s no, ‘Oh, you’re gay, you can come in. You’re not gay, you cannot come in,’” a woman said. “No, it’s not anything like that at all.“ She noted how friendly the staff and atmosphere are.

On its website, Rosie’s Bar & Grill describes itself as a restaurant that has “amazing food and refreshing drinks and sassy fun.” It says: “Whether you come for lunch or dinner, for Sunday Funday Brunch or for just a few drinks … whether you are LBGTQ+ or an ally … whether you are local or visiting … whether you come with a group or venture out solo … you will have a memorable experience with the most talented crew in South Florida.”

In a statement to The Miami Herald in response to the hate, Leonardi said: “As a school board member, I am committed to staying engaged with my community. I’m always proud to join classes for field trips and events, especially when our schools are connecting with the vibrant small businesses in my district.”

In regards to the threats that have been made after the photos were posted, Leonardi said, “Sadly, I’ve recently been attacked with bigoted comments and death threats. My friends and family have also been targeted.”

Conservatives seem to have an issue with the restaurant being inclusive and that is not oka—would they have the same issue if the restaurant owners were openly racist? Probably not.

“People are acting like the manager served the kids a round of stiff mojitos and then talked about gay sex. This is ridiculous,” Andre Menotti, an attorney based in Los Angeles, said on Twitter. “In the end, they ordered some food and colored a pumpkin.”




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