LGBTQ groups, as well as parents and students, sued the state of Florida and its Republican governor on March 31 over the newly signed legislation dubbed as “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics.
Over a dozen LGBTQ advocates filed the federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, arguing that the Parental Rights in Education law or HB 1557 “is an unlawful attempt to stigmatize, silence, and erase LGBTQ people in Florida’s public schools.”
“Through H.B. 1557, Florida would deny to an entire generation that LGBTQ people exist and have equal dignity. This effort to control young minds through state censorship — and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the 80-page complaint read.
Attorneys for the New York-based firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality, as well as several Florida families, filed the complaint.
The legislation, signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on March 28, will ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity through third grade when it takes effect on July 1.
The lawsuit argues that the legislation violates the constitutionally protected rights of free speech, equal protection, and due process of students and families.
The lawsuit also pointed out the “vagueness” of the legislation, saying that “nobody knows exactly what the statutory language covers.”
DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske called the lawsuit a “political Hail-Mary to undermine parental rights in Florida.”
“This calculated, politically motivated, virtue-signaling lawsuit is meritless, and we will defend the legality of parents to protect their young children from sexual content in Florida public schools,” Fenske said in a statement.
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