A Florida law that prohibits classroom
“instruction” on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades
K-3 took effect on Friday, July 1.
House Bill 1557, known as the “Don't
Say Gay” law, also restricts discussion on such topics in grades
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a
Republican, signed the legislation into law in March surrounded by
In signing the bill, DeSantis, who is
believed to have presidential ambitions, pushed back against critics
of the measure, including pressure to veto the bill from Disney.
“I don't care what corporate media
outlets say,” DeSantis told the small crowd gathered at a charter
school campus. “I don't care what Hollywood says. I don't care what
big corporations say. Here I stand. I'm not backing down.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBTQ rights advocate, called the “Don't Say Gay”
law an attempt to shame and isolate LGBTQ students.
“School policy should focus on
education, not discrimination,” said Joni Madison, interim
president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Governor DeSantis’s
‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law is a shameful attack on students
already struggling with the weight of discrimination. It is a
slapdash, mean-spirited, impossible-to-comply-with law designed to
make LGBTQ+ students feel shame and isolation at school, a place
where every child deserves a chance to learn and succeed. The Human
Rights Campaign strongly condemns these discriminatory policies
taking effect on Friday and will continue fighting for Floridians who
deserve to exist freely, proudly, and to have their stories shared.”
Other GOP-led states have also
introduced similar legislation.
“Shameful efforts to replicate
DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law in other states are
being pursued by extremist legislators trying to rile up a small but
radical base, who foolishly believe peddling hate against children
will win them support at the ballot box come November. We have a
message for them: The country is tired of watching you use the lives
of our children for personal political power. And come November,
we’ll make sure you hear that message from all of us, loud and
clear,” Madison said.
The Biden administration has criticized
the law and is encouraging students or parents who believe they are
experiencing discrimination as a result of the law to file a
complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
DeSantis also signed into law the “Stop
WOKE Act,” which is viewed by critics as an attempt to censor
dialogue in the workplace about systemic racism, gender, and race
discrimination. This law also took effect on Friday.