Protests erupt as Florida moves to expand ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

Protests erupted inside and near the Florida Capitol building on Friday as state House of Representatives lawmakers voted to pass an expansion of what critics commonly refer to the law as “Don’t Say Gay”.

The proposed legislation would build on the Parental Rights in Education Act 2022, which prohibits discussions of gender identity and sexuality from kindergarten to grade three in public schools. Governor Ron DeSantis (right) and other Florida conservatives have argued that teaching these subjects in public schools is a form of ‘indoctrination’ and that these should instead be taught by parents to the House.

The new bill, HB 1069, would impose additional limits on discuseducation about sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools from kindergarten to grade 12, and have them teach that “sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at the birth “. It would also restrict how teachers at those schools can use students’ preferred pronouns.

As lawmakers debated the bill on Fridayover 100 LGBTQ+ students and allies marched to the State Capitol. Many swarmed the hallways outside the House chamber, with others protesting around the building and in areas near the Capitol grounds.

Protesters outside the House chamber stood in a large circle, chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and “hey hey, ho ho, Ron DeSantis has to go”. Jhe crowd began to boo upon hearing the news of the bill’s passage.

Many Florida Democrats opposed the proposal, saying it amounted to sex discrimination, Political reports.

“This bill just tells parts of our community in Florida that they don’t exist,” said state Rep. Ashley Gantt (D), according to Politico.

Two GOP lawmakers voted against the proposal. But in Florida’s Republican-majority legislative chamber, the bill still passes. 77-35. The voting took place on Transgender Awareness Day, celebrated annually on March 31.

HB 1069 is among 10 Florida bills targeting LGBTQ+ rights that have advanced in the current legislative session, along with hundreds more nationwide. These include similar extensions to the Parental Rights in Education Act, such as SB 1320 and HB 1223, introduced by GOP lawmakers in Florida.

The Senate version of HB 1069 again awaits final committee hearing before the proposal can be put to the final vote.


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