Some groups in Florida are filing lawsuits over ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ for ‘suppressing speech’ and we love to see it.
Since the threat of Florida’s horrific Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’, became a topic of global coverage and debate, eventually then being signed into law, the one amazing thing we have seen amidst the catastrophic circumstances, is people standing up, taking action, and fighting for their freedom.
The bill was signed into law back in March and despite it coming into effect on July 1, one thing about the public mood seems abundantly clear: the fight is not over.
A group of young people and their families, with the support of advocacy groups, have filed a suit saying that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.
(First amendment: prevents the government from making laws that regulate an establishment of religion, or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.)
The suit was entered on July 26 and was filed by three civil rights groups (Lambda Legal, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Southern Legal Counsel) on behalf of two Florida couples and their children, Florida high school student Will Larkins, and CenterLink, an international member-based association of LGBTQ centers, per NBC News.
The suit states that the law’s “vigilante enforcement mechanism,” combined with its “intentionally vague and sweeping scope, invites parents who oppose any acknowledgement whatsoever of the existence of LGBTQ+ people to sue, resulting in schools acting aggressively to silence students, parents, and school personnel.”
On that basis, the complaint continues, “The law, by design, chills speech and expression that have any connection, however remote, to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The complaint named four county school boards — Orange, Indian River, Duval and Palm Beach — as defendants.
Included in the filing, “Florida enacted HB 1557 to silence and erase lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people and families.”
“The law is profoundly vague and requires schools to ban undefined broad categories of speech, based on undefined standards such as ‘appropriateness.’”
Tracy Pierce, chief of marketing and PR for Duval County Public Schools, said in a statement that the district “will always take steps necessary to comply with Florida laws.” and that, “Any further district response will come within the context of the judicial proceedings.”
The ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ bill itself bans instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Parents can also sue school districts over violations, fuelling a long-fought culture of fear over essential LGBTQ+ visibility.
Parents can also decline any mental, emotional and physical health services available to their children at school, and schools will be required to notify parents of their child’s use of school health services unless there is reason to believe “that disclosure would subject the student to abuse, abandonment or neglect.”
The bill has been highly criticized for its use of vague language which is open to dangerous interpretation, which is a key point in the applicants’ claim. Things like: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights also filed a separate suit in March, just after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law.