New York, NY — On April 19, the Florida Board of Education voted to ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom through twelfth grade, expanding on the state’s “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law which imposed such a categorical ban for kindergarten through third grade and prohibited discussion on the same forbidden topics in other grades where not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
Family Equality condemns further expansion of this divisive and harmful policy.
The original bill, HB 1557, was signed into law last spring and harms students, especially LGBTQ+ students and those with LGBTQ+ parents. The law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution — by discriminatorily censoring what can be taught or said about sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida public schools. The law, which is intentionally vague and written in broad terms, invites arbitrary enforcement by parents and others to sue local school boards for damages based on perceived violations.
As a result, administrators have interpreted conservatively, causing some schools to change policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ students and teachers, censor classroom discussion, remove books and safe space stickers, and leave LGBTQ+ students, teachers, and families feeling unsupported and unable to be out and safe at schools.
“We are already seeing the harmful effects of this law,” said Stacey Stevenson, CEO of Family Equality. “A recent study by the Williams Institute on the impact of this law on LGBTQ+ parents in Florida found that 56% of LGBTQ+ parents surveyed considered moving out of Florida because of the bill and 17% have taken steps to do so. And those are just the families who have the resources to relocate. The Board of Education’s action to extend this harmful rule through twelfth grade, will exacerbate the harm to Floridians, especially LGBTQ+ students, families, and teachers.”
History of the lawsuit challenging the law:
- March 2022: Family Equality joins lawsuit with Florida parents and students to challenge “Don’t Say Gay” law as harmful and unconstitutional.
- October 2022: U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor dismissed our complaint and held that none of the sixteen plaintiffs had standing to challenge it.
- February 2023: Judge Winsor dismissed an amended complaint and entered judgment against the plaintiffs.
- March 2023: An appeal was filed on behalf of Family Equality and Florida families in “Don’t Say Gay and Trans” Lawsuit.
“The bottom line is our families in Florida need and deserve protections,” said Stevenson. “And that’s what we’re fighting for.”
About Family Equality
Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education.
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Chief Communications Officer
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