At a rally Monday night, the storm clouds overhead perfectly represented the metaphorical storm crowds that hover over the LGBT community.

On the eve of what is likely the passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Safe Schools and AHF rallied supporters. Off the top, Safe Schools Executive Director Scott Galvin told people that, while he hopes he is wrong, this is likely a losing fight.

“The idea is to show people we are still going to be a cohesive community, that we’re still here. We’re not going away. Just because you voted a law into place doesn’t mean we’re all going to suddenly disappear.”

Just hours before, several amendments to soften the language that targets talking about gay issues in schools were rejected, meaning the bill will likely pass as-is and be signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As the rain began to spit down on Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the crowd refused to be deterred. Two large flags were unfurled: the traditional Pride flag and the trans Pride flag. People gathered around to listen about how the bill will impact students.

“It’s been made to seem that we, as teachers, talk about sexuality with children. We don’t,” Denise Soufrine, a kindergarten teacher at Pembroke Pines Elementary, said. “It means that we can’t help the students who might come to us questioning something about themselves. It also means that little children may feel there is something wrong with their families if they have gay parents.”

The most powerful speaker of the evening was a child who will be directly impacted. A queer student got up and bravely addressed the crowd. The words were simple and the message clear: it’s unfair.

It’s also a made-up issue.

“The people who are making these laws don’t understand what’s going on in the classroom,” Soufrine said.

As for what comes next, Galvin believes this bill is vague by design, and middle and high school administrators will find this on their doorstep sooner rather than later.

“I know how to read the legal language, and I know how they’ve created a workaround. The fact that it says ‘K-3, or all grade levels,’ [means] a parent is going to be emboldened and come in there and woe to the principal. Here’s your lawsuit.”


Fight Against 'Don't Say Gay' Gets Louder, Prouder