Bill Filed to Expand Florida’s Harmful “Don’t Say LGBTQ” Law

Bill Filed to Expand Florida’s Harmful “Don’t Say LGBTQ” Law

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Last year, Governor DeSantis championed the “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law as part of a broad censorship agenda that included book banning and attacks on academic freedom, while punishing businesses and individuals who spoke out against it.  Today, Representative Adam Anderson (R-Tarpon Springs) proposed to expand that law in HB 1223.  The new bill doubles down on a vague and discriminatory law whose negative consequences have already been felt in schools across Florida.  Other states like Utah and Maryland have rejected such harmful policies. 

“Don’t Say LGBTQ policies have already resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning, rainbow Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, districts refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month, and LGBTQ families preparing to leave the state altogether.  This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Governor DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career,” said Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer. “Governor DeSantis and the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum, and culture.  Free states don’t ban books or people.”

The legislation expands the Don’t Say LGBTQ law’s dangerous empowerment of a small cadre of anti-LGBTQ activists to sue a school district to enforce a complete ban on classroom instruction regarding “sexual orientation or gender identity” from pre-kindergarten through eighth grades.  Banning school districts from acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade is detrimental to LGBTQ students and students with LGBTQ parents. Additionally, the law would forbid use of pronouns that align with transgender students’ gender identity up through twelfth grade, depriving parents of the right to ensure that their children are protected and respected in their identity.  

The legislation’s censorship also extends to charter schools and private pre-kindergarten.  “The DeSantis regime isn’t satisfied with a hostile takeover of traditional public schools. They envision a future where LGBTQ families have no school choice to find dignity or respect,” said Maurer.

The existing ban on such instruction has been challenged in court, following multiple instances of negative outcomes for LGBTQ youth and families like the direct censoring of library books and student speeches, removal of “Safe Space” stickers and rainbow flags, and instructing LGBTQ educators to remove pictures of same-sex spouses from desks.  

The Don’t Say LGBTQ policies are part of a coordinated campaign by the DeSantis Administration.  They are the epitome of the administration’s effort to wage culture wars against academic freedom, parental rights, and diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of a broader strategy to challenge the Governor’s former mentor Donald Trump for a presidential nomination. The Desantis Administration’s obsession with far-right Presidential primary voters are why we have seen one of the country’s largest state university systems subjected to a McCarthy-era witch hunt for equity and diversity programs and provision of transgender healthcare, sweeping censorship of books by Black and LGBTQ authors, doctors’ careers threatened for providing transgender Floridians life-saving healthcare, and even a complete far right take over of the New College of Florida. Florida stands in the midst of an unprecedented campaign of censorship and surveillance, targeting anyone who doesn’t share the increasingly extremist ideology of Governor Ron DeSantis. 


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