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Florida school district defends elementary school field trip to gay bar

Rosie's Bar and Grill
Students at Wilton Manors Elementary School in Wilton Manors, Florida, traveled to nearby Rosie’s Bar and Grill, a notable gay bar, for a school field trip. The bar’s rainbow-colored umbrellas are visible in the background. |

A Florida school district is defending an elementary school field trip to a notorious gay bar after a school board member’s social media post of the outing generated outrage.

Sarah Leonardi, who serves on the Board of Education for Broward County Schools in South Florida, announced on her Twitter page last Wednesday that she chaperoned a group of students at Wilton Manors Elementary School in Wilton Manors, Florida, to Rosie’s Bar and Grill.

“I was SO honored to be invited to chaperone @WiltonManorsES’s field trip to the incredible Rosie’s!” she wrote. 

“The students and I had a fun walk over and learned a lot about our community! A huge thank you to @RosiesBNG for hosting this special field trip every year!” Leonardi added. 

Rosie’s has menu items with sexually provocative names, including burgers named “Ivana Hooker,” "Rhoda Cowboy" and “Anita Mojito,” which is described as a “sexy Cuban temptress.” Another burger named “Helena Bun” is touted as being “tossed in Rosie’s own ‘Smack My Cheeks and Make ’em Rosy’” sauce. According to the menu, the “Plain Jane” burger contains “our signature burger blend from the sexiest Angus beef cows.” 

The field trip received criticism from conservatives, who pointed to the excursion as the latest example of schools trying to force leftist ideology onto children. Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, sent out a tweet lamenting that a “Broward School Board member takes little kids to a gay bar on a field trip, forcing them to wear masks to ‘keep them safe.’” 

In a follow-up tweet, Pushaw suggested that Leonardi “took little kids to this bar EXPECTING that some parents would protest, so she could call the FBI and go on MSNBC to discuss all the ‘threatening messages’ she’s received from ‘insurrectionist parents.’”

Pushaw’s tweet is in reference to the Department of Justice memo urging federal law enforcement officials to meet with local leaders to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” 

The DOJ memo followed a letter from the National School Boards Association requesting “federal assistance to stop threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators,” which it likened to domestic terrorism. The NSBA letter and the DOJ memo were condemned for suggesting that parents expressing concerns about sexually explicit material available in schools at school board meetings were akin to domestic terrorists. 

According to Leonardi, some of the rhetoric surrounding the controversy over the field trip to Rosie’s has gone beyond the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Leonardi told the Miami Herald that since posting about the field trip on social media, she has “been attacked with bigoted comments and death threats,” along with her family and friends. Rosie’s owner John Zieba reported that the restaurant has received death threats via phone originating from area codes based outside the Fort Lauderdale area, where the establishment is located. 

Zieba also rejected the characterization of his business as a gay bar, telling the publication, “We welcome everybody. Every race, color, creed or ethnicity.” 

Broward County Public Schools issued a statement in response to the criticism, asserting that “the bar and restaurant was not open to the general public when students were present inside.” The district also stressed that “When the business opened, students transitioned to a separate, outside location to order and eat their meals” and that “the students order their meals from a student-friendly paper menu that has three child-friendly choices.” 

The district defended the field trip as part of the school’s curriculum: “Wilton Manors Elementary School offers a Unit of Inquiry called, ‘How we organize ourselves. In the unit, students learn about neighborhood safety, community helpers, the importance of being a community member, what it takes for a community to be successful, different jobs in a community, and social skills.”

As part of the unit, the district said students visit Rosie’s, which is within walking distance from the school, to “learn about the types of jobs involved in operating a restaurant, how to pay for their meal, and how to leave a tip for the service they receive.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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