The Phoenix Flyer

LGBTQ groups post billboards declaring FL the ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans State’

By: - April 27, 2022 11:46 am

Several billboards were launched in Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando and South Florida, part of a public awareness campaign about Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Credit: Rich Luchette

Following a lawsuit challenging Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education,” or “Don’t Say Gay” law, LGBTQ advocates are launching a billboard campaign that proclaims Florida “The ‘Don’t Say Gay Or Trans’ State.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization representing the LGBTQ community, unveiled billboards in cities throughout the state, where they’ll stand for the next several weeks, according to its press release.

The sites have included Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, and South Florida. The billboards read: “Gov. Ron DeSantis Welcomes You To Florida,” with the “sunshine” part of the state nickname stricken by a red banner and replaced with “Don’t Say Gay Or Trans.”

The billboards criticize DeSantis and other proponents of the law, which limits LGBTQ topics in classrooms.

Joni Madison, interim president of the HRC, said in an email Wednesday to the Florida Phoenix:

“Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law is outrageous and discriminatory. It needs to be repealed immediately. This billboard campaign is designed to make people confront what this terrible law really does: censor and silence educators and isolate LGBTQ+ students and their families.”

The new law prohibits discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public classrooms in kindergarten through third grade and allows it only when age-appropriate among older kids.

Equality Florida filed federal a lawsuit against DeSantis, state education officials, and others in late March, claiming the law violates constitutional rights including the First Amendment. The plaintiffs include a teacher, LGBTQ students and families, and Family Equality — a national LGBTQ advocacy group.

“Florida cannot be considered the ‘Sunshine State’ when Gov. Ron DeSantis is putting so many of its constituents in harm’s way,” Madison, of HRC, said.

“Gov. DeSantis can try to tell teachers what they can teach, can try to tell kids what they can read, and can try to tell students what they can learn — but he cannot tell LGBTQ+ people who we can be.

“LGBTQ+ people are teachers, are parents, and, yes, are students too — and we are going to keep fighting until this law is off the books.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

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