“Don’t Say Gay” is now one signature away from being the law of the land from Pensacola to Key West.
The bill passed the State Senate on March 8 by a vote of 22-17. The next stop is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for an expected final signature.
The measure has been one of, if not the most controversial piece of legislation this session. Supporters say it prevents sexuality from being discussed in lower grades and doesn’t focus on the LGBT community. However, the language does call out the gender and sexual orientation as prohibited topics, and is so vague that it could easily be applied to upper grades and affect clubs such as Gay/Straight Alliances.
In a statement after the vote Equality Florida slammed the bill.
“Let us be clear: should its vague language be interpreted in any way that causes harm to a single child, teacher, or family, we will lead legal action against the State of Florida to challenge this bigoted legislation,” the statement reads. “We will not sit by and allow the governor’s office to call us pedophiles. We will not allow this bill to harm LGBTQ Floridians. We will not permit any school to enforce this in a way that endangers the safety of children. We stand ready to fight for Floridians in court and hold lawmakers who supported this bill accountable at the ballot box.”
Rallies against the bill have been going on for more than a month as the bill quickly and easily moved through the state legislature. Committees in both chambers quickly passed the bill to the main floors for votes. Organizations like Safe Schools and AHF poured resources into raising awareness, hoping to stoke outrage and swing a few votes to defeat the measure.
Students protested at the statehouse in Tallahassee, organized walkouts, and mobilized on social media. Their stories of being “erased” from the conversation were truthful and heartbreaking.
But in the end, none of it mattered.
Sponsors of the bill had the votes from the beginning, and essentially just let the opposition make their arguments and voted for it anyway.
There will likely be court challenges, but those will take years. State courts have been filled exclusively by Republicans for a generation, and the current U.S. Supreme Court has a very conservative tilt.
Assuming DeSantis signs the bill, it will take effect in time for the new school year in August.