Threats Issued Against Board Member Who Defended School Field Trip to Gay Bar

Photo: (Photo : Eb Pilgrim/Pixabay)

A school board member has been receiving death threats after she shared on social media that she chaperoned a school field trip that brought the students to a popular Florida gay bar and grill.

Sarah Leonardi of the Broward County Public Schools shared the photos of the school field trip involving the kids from Wilton Manors Elementary School on her Twitter account. She also mentioned that they went to Rosie's Bar and Grill. The said eatery is known for its racy menus.

Speaking with NBC Miami, Leonardi said that "bigoted" people targeted her family, friends, and church community because of her post, prompting her to report the threats to the authorities. The school board member said she would like to focus on engaging the community with positivity as the representative of her school district. 

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Outcry from Conservatives

Christina Pushaw, who works as the press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, reshared Leonardi's tweet and suggested that the school board member was forcing her liberal ideologies on the kids. In a second tweet, Pushaw also implied that Leonardi was likely expecting a protest from the parents so she could go to the press or the FBI to harp about threats and insurrection.

In recent weeks, school board members through the National School Boards Association have asked for assistance from the Department of Justice amid a spate of violent threats against school officials enforcing the rules. The DOJ has branded such acts as almost similar to "domestic terrorism," which has sparked a different controversy.

However, Leonardi said some of the comments and arguments regarding the school field trip had overstepped appropriate boundaries. Even John Zieba, the restaurant's owner, said he had received attacks and threats on the phone.

Why the Gay Bar?

After Leonardi's controversial tweet, Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton, who also chaperoned the school field trip, said the visit to the Rosie's Bar and Grill is part of teaching the kids about the neighborhood and its community members. The children did not see the racy menus as they were given child-appropriate food listings.

The restaurant was also not open to other patrons while the children were on the premises. Mayor Newton said that the trip was "very innocent" as it focused on helping the kids realize the things they can achieve if they try "to do something on their own." It also supported the school's Unit of Inquiry initiative, where the kids learn the best ways to give back to their neighborhood. In this case, it was a restaurant providing jobs and training for workers.

According to WFLA, Rosies' Bar and Grill has been hosting school field trips for a decade. Zieba expressed sadness that this incident was blown out of proportion.

"It's taking such a nice event and putting ugly labels on it and stereotypes and it's very troubling," Zieba said. He emphasized that they accept everyone at their restaurant regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, and color.

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