A pair of bills that viciously target and attack Florida’s LGBT community passed in the Florida House of Representatives, taking a big step towards becoming law.

“Don’t Say Gay” (HB1557) passed 69-47, and the “Stop Woke” Act (HB 7) passed 74-41.

“Don’t Say Gay” prohibits schools from any discussion of LGBT topics in lower grades, but is written so vaguely that it could be interpreted to ban Gay/Straight Alliances and other discussions in upper grades, and could even force teachers to remove pictures of their same-sex spouse from their classrooms, a burden heterosexual teachers avoid.

“Stop Woke” prohibits schools from teaching any history lessons that could make students feel bad about themselves. Many aspects of Black history couldn’t focus on the role slavery and racial oppression played in America’s history. It also prevents employers from requiring cultural training sessions.

Shortly after the votes, Equality Florida condemned the measures.

“Despite overwhelming public outrage, polling data underscoring immense unpopularity with voters, and hours of testimony from LGBTQ families. Republican legislators voted to pass the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and ‘Stop WOKE’ Act in the Florida House. If signed into law, these bills will have disastrous impacts on classrooms and workplaces. They will turn Florida into a surveillance state and give the government broad license to censor conversations about American history, the origins of racism and injustice, and the existence of LGBTQ people.”

The Broward County School Board and Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission have passed resolutions opposing the measures, and Safe Schools has also voiced its opposition.

The measures are so divisive that even some Republicans couldn’t stomach the idea.

“This bill is so extreme that it inspired a rare rebellion within House GOP ranks as seven Republican lawmakers broke with leadership and opposed passage,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said. “Those voting NO include a teacher and a child welfare advocate demonstrating that those who work most closely with children and students understand how damaging this legislation truly is.” 

GOP representatives voting “No” were Rep. James Mooney, Rep. Chip LaMarca, Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, Rep. Vance Aloupis, all of whom represent South Florida. Other Republicans voting “No” were Rep. Amber Mariano, Rep. Rene Plasencia, and Rep. Will Robinson.

Opponents are urging the Florida Senate to not vote on the bills, but that seems unlikely since it’s already passed out of committee. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he supports the bills and is likely to sign them if they reach his desk.

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