Weekend protests scheduled after Florida Republicans pass 'Don't Say Gay' bill

Weekend protests scheduled after Florida Republicans pass 'Don't Say Gay' bill
Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, speaks with members of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., leadership during the governor's first visit to the base since becoming governor, Jan. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

Florida LGBTQ organizations are organizing rallies to protest Thursday afternoon’s passage of the House’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that will force schools to out children to parents and make clear to all that being LGBTQ or coming from an LGBTQ home is unacceptable in the Sunshine State. The bill would prohibit nearly all “classroom instruction” of LGBTQ issues and invite parents to sue if they feel the law has been violated.

Freshman Republican state Rep. Joe Harding's legislation withstood damning attacks by House Democrats, local, state, and national leaders, activists, and organizations. Seven GOP lawmakers crossed the aisle to vote against the bill, but in the end, as expected, it passed: 69-47.

“This bill in its language empowers school districts throughout this state to eliminate any discussion or recognition of the LGBTQ community until high school graduation. This is not about kindergarten through third,” state Democratic Rep. Mike Grieco said, as Florida Politics reports. “Anyone who says that this bill is only about kindergarten through third grade is either mistaken or they’re flat out lying.”

The Senate is expected to take up its version next week. Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled he will sign the bill into law.

Protests are planned for Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday at noon in Orlando, several LGBTQ+ groups including Equality Florida are holding a rally.

“We are facing an onslaught of dangerous and hateful racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida,” a Facebook event page reads. “We cannot simply respond to them one by one. Instead we must put them in a context that shows people the danger and the failure of leadership these priorities reveal.

“These ‘hate slate’ of bills are rooted in dangerous rhetoric and directly attacks all Floridian’s freedoms — a divisive and dehumanizing roster of bills that has the government interfering in our most personal decisions and seeks to ban honest conversations about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”

“Politicians are using these bills to secure the loyalty of an extremist base, even if it puts our youngest and most vulnerable in the community at risk. These actions do not represent the State or People of Florida.”

On Friday at 3 PM at Lake Bonny Park in Lakeland protestors organized by the Lakeland Youth Alliance.

“To me, this bill reflects homophobia,” Kerri McCoy, the group’s adult mentor, told The Ledger. “And it seems to be a pattern that we are constantly seeing with many Florida legislators. I feel like, if for some reason that bill passes, who is going to be the ones to protect the LGBTQ+ kids in our schools?”

“You know, same-sex marriage has been around since 2015,” McCoy, who is also president of PFLAG of Polk County, added. “This is not foreign. So, essentially banning discussions of LGBTQ+ youth, LGBTQ+ families and LGBTQ+ history, this will have a negative effect on the support for LGBTQ youth in our schools.”

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