Tallahassee – On April 19th, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality Florida, joined teachers, parents, and students in slamming Florida’s Board of Education for voting to expand Gov. Ron DeSantis’s shameful “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bill to all grades. At a roundtable event in Tallahassee, they also spoke out against the Florida legislature’s unprecedented efforts to advance a slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills and proposals attacking the LGBTQ+ community. The rights of millions of Floridians are being rolled back by Gov. DeSantis and his allies who – to pander to the most extreme fringes of their base – have proposed more government censorship of classrooms, more government intrusion into health care and custody agreements, and more government banning of books and entertainment.
Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign, released the following statement:
“There’s nothing wrong with talking about LGBTQ+ people, history, and culture in our classrooms. There’s nothing wrong with children receiving life-saving gender affirming care. Our community poses no threat. The real threat to Floridians is Gov. Ron DeSantis and extremist legislators who are some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in America. DeSantis and his allies show no shame in their government overreach and unrelenting desire to attack the freedoms of those different from them.”
Added Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director:
“Let’s put it plainly: this is part of the Governor’s assault on freedom. Free states do not ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities out of the classroom. Free states do not wage war on LGBTQ+ people to score cheap political points for a man desperate to be President.”
The Board of Education’s rule change, which does not require legislative approval, will block teachers from providing safe, inclusive classrooms, further stigmatizing LGBTQ+ people and isolating LGBTQ+ kids. It will ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from fourth to twelfth grade unless required by state standards or as part of a reproductive health course that parents can opt students out of.
DeSantis’ initial law, passed last year, bans those lessons in kindergarten through third grade. Equality Florida has organized hundreds of advocates across the state to show up in committee hearings, in and outside the Capitol, and throughout their communities to make their voices heard. Students from Walkout2Learn organized major walkout on Friday, April 21. According to the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida, 49% of Floridians oppose “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” legislation while only 40% support it. According to the latest data from PRRI, support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Florida and nationwide: 80% of Florida residents support nondiscrimination protections, and 66% of Florida residents oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. A recent survey of more than 100 LGBTQ+ parents in Florida found more than half are thinking about leaving the state because of the “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” law.