Image via Shutterstock The suit filed to challenge Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law argues that it keeps children from talking about their families.
Image via Shutterstock

The suit seeks to stop the implementation of the divisive law and argues that it was enacted to shame and silence LGBTQ children and families.

The controversial “Parental Rights in Education” measure (HB 1557) signed into law in March by Gov. Ron DeSantis has come under fire for violating freedom of speech, depriving due process for families of gay children, and depriving equal justice under federal law.

Called the “Don’t Say Gay Law” by its opponents, the Republican-backed legislation bans schools across the state from discussing “sexual orientation or gender identity” in primary grade levels.

“HB 1557 was enacted to shame and silence LGBTQ+ children and families, stigmatizing them, subjecting them to adverse treatment, and barring them from full and equal protection in their school communities,” according to the suit filed by families of public school children in Orange County and Indian River County, an Orange County high school student who is openly gay, and a coalition of LBGTQ community.

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Filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando, the suit seeks to stop the implementation of the law and argues, among other charges, that HB 1557:

  • Shames and stigmatizes [LGBTQ] students and families, invites school officials, teachers, and classmates to view them as inferior, harms their long-term health and well-being.
  • Restricts LGBTQ students’ abilities to access life-saving information. The state’s young LGBTQ population already faces greater risk of self-harm and suicide.
  • Denies them equal educational opportunities on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and transgender status.
  • Chills schools from responding effectively to bullying based on a student’s sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Already Duval County public schools have removed a 12-minute video that teaches middle and high school students to prevent bullying and support their LGBTQ peers, to comply with DeSantis’ law,
  • Keeps children from being able to speak about their family at [a] critical age “when family is often a topic of discussion.”

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More Worrisome Than Trump

The lawsuit also contends that the Republican measure’s vague language “inevitably has led to, and continues to lead to, discriminatory and arbitrary application and enforcement across various school districts.” It continues: “The law fails to define numerous terms that are integral to its scope, including ‘classroom instruction,’ ‘third parties,’ ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘age-appropriate,’ and ‘developmentally appropriate.’”

For this reason, co-hosts of The New Abnormal podcast, Andy Levy and Molly Jong-Fastbe, believe that Ron DeSantis is more worrisome than ex-president Donald Trump.

“DeSantis won’t get up there and say, ‘We’re going to punish transgender children.’ What he’ll do is get up there and say, ‘We believe in parents’ rights,’ and he’ll couch it in various ways because he’s smarter than Trump in that way.”

Florida Democrats continue to push back against the bill, which Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running to unseat DeSantis in November, says “is not what Florida stands for. We won’t stop fighting against this attack on our LGBTQ+ Floridians.”