Governor Ron DeSantis has signed Florida’s discriminatory ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law. This law stigmatizes LGBTQ people, isolates LGBTQ kids, and makes teachers fearful of providing safe, inclusive classrooms.
Republican leadership made clear that this legislation is intended to erase LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ families, and LGBTQ history. At every turn, the Florida Legislature rejected reasonable amendments to this legislation and refused to mitigate its harm. Including:
- An amendment that would have narrowed the definition of “classroom instruction” to “curriculum”.
- An amendment that would “ban classroom instruction intended to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression”.
- Republicans blocked multiple efforts from their GOP colleagues and Democrats in the Florida Legislature to make this a bill banning instruction on sexual topics for students from Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Lawmakers rejected the voices of tens of thousands who sent emails and made phone calls asking for them to put a stop to this bill, thousands of courageous students who walked out of class, hundreds of people who testified before their bodies, dozens of child welfare organizations and leaders who spoke up to name the harms of the bill, and their own Republican colleagues who refused to support it. Instead, they locked arms with the angry mobs hurling anti-LGBTQ slurs at those asking for nothing more than a safe place to go to school without having to hide who they are.
The loudest advocates of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law are the same far-right activists who have flooded school board meetings and used bullhorns to scream at LGBTQ students and families — demanding an end to policies that support and protect LGBTQ students.
They have called for more than 80 books to be banned from libraries, calling anything with LGBTQ content “pornographic.” This includes the books featuring same-sex parents and the true story of two male penguins raising a baby penguin together at the Central Park Zoo, “And Tango Makes Three.” If we allow schools to censor and exclude one group, others will be next. This is the kind of law one expects to see in an authoritarian state, not in a democracy.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is committed to an agenda that threatens to turn Florida into a censorship and surveillance state — giving the government broad license to censor conversations about American history, the origins of racism and injustice, and the existence of LGBTQ people.