Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP allies in the Florida Legislature are doubling down on the anti-LGBT rhetoric as bills to bully and silence students and teachers speed through committees.
Equality Florida refuses to be silenced.
Executive Director Nadine Smith says DeSantis’ support for these bills echoes bigots from the past. DeSantis is taking a page from Anita Bryant’s playbook, using anti-LGBT legislation as a springboard to serve his national political ambitions.
“From banning books and electronic monitoring of teachers to white-washing history and allowing the state to dictate our health care decisions, DeSantis is committed to an agenda of censorship and surveillance that intrudes on all aspects of our lives.”
The “Don’t Say Gay” bills have a clear path to DeSantis’ desk. In the House, HB 1557 already passed one committee 15-5, and SB 1834 is set to be heard in the Senate Education Committee this week.
A rally against the bills was held at The Pride Center last week, and LGBT members and allies are in Tallahassee lobbying to kill the bills.
But it’s an uphill climb.
LGBT students are easy targets. They can’t vote and tend to be less politically involved. Last year a new law banned trans athletes from school sports. This new law would prevent any discussion of sexual orientation in schools, impacting everything from sex ed to Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, to married teachers putting a picture of their same-sex spouse on their desk.
DeSantis is running for re-election in November, and some believe a shadow campaign for the GOP nomination for president in 2024.
Smith calls him out for these transparent efforts to cater to his bigoted, narrow-minded base.
“His political agenda is driven not by the real pressing needs of our state but his desire to peel away Trump supporters as the two Floridians jockey for the 2024 Republican presidential primary. He is willing to inflict harm on the most vulnerable in our state in order to shore up his extremist base.”