Activists Promise Action After Florida Legislature Passes “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

After the Florida legislature passed legislation that restricts discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, activists promised action Tuesday.

The Parental Rights in Education bill, which LGBTQ activists and allies have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, passed in the Florida Senate by a vote of 22 to 17. Two Republican senators voted against the legislation, joining all Democrats in the chamber.

The bill, which was previously passed by the state House of Representatives is now headed to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis stated in previous statements that he supports the bill.

If the bill becomes law, it will be effective immediately. Would ban discussions on LGBTQ topicsIn primary schools, there are strict restrictions on what can be taught and discussed in high school. It would also allow parents to sue school districts if information about their children is withheld, or if instruction on LGBTQ topics is not “age-appropriate.”

Activists have warned of severe consequences if the bill becomes law — including Increased harassment of LGBTQ studentsBecause of the vague language in the bill, victims might not be able to speak up and there may be fewer consequences for those who bully them.

If DeSantis signs it into law, it would go into effect starting July 1, meaning that it wouldn’t affect the current academic year but would apply to schools in the fall.

The author of the bill, Florida state Rep. Joe Harding (R), claims that the legislation isn’t meant to harm LGBTQ students, but rather to restrict school districts from “insert[ing] themselves” into discussions best left to families. The bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Dennis Baxley (R), stated that it is intended to be used for family discussions. to reduce the number of children that are coming outAs LGBTQ in the state.

Although some conservative parents support the bill and certain political groups in the state are supportive, polling last month showed that most Floridians opposed its implementation. A University of North Florida pollIt was found that 57% of state residents oppose this bill, while only 34% want it to pass.

Legislators and activists decry the bill as a hateful and harmful act that would affect the well-being Florida’s children.

“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill isn’t just hateful — it’s homophobic and ignorant, and it only moves us further away from the progress we’ve made as a nation,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida).

“All youth deserve to be validated, supported, and included in our schools,” GLAD said in a statement on Twitter. “This censorship bill sends a dangerous message to #LGBTQ+ youth and will hurt all Florida students’ ability to learn about their world.”

Others promised to take legal action against the bill if it was signed into legislation and caused harm to LGBTQ youth.

“Let us be clear: should the vague language of this bill be interpreted in any way that causes harm to a single child, teacher, or family, we will lead legal action against the State of Florida to challenge this bigoted legislation,” read a social media post from Equality Florida, a group representing LGBTQ rights in the state.

Monday More than 500 students protested against this legislationA walkout was organized at Winter Park High School in Orange County. Will Larkins, a junior, was instrumental in organizing the protest. He promised that students would continue to protest if DeSantis signed it into law.

“This is going to continue. If this passes, there will be protests everywhere,” Larkins said.