Say Gay

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is finally on its way out

Following a court settlement, Florida schools can officially say gay again—with some stipulations. The arduous legal battle against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law has succeeded in nullifying its most serious implications. But for some reason, Ron DeSantis is also celebrating the settlement as a victory.

On Monday, the attorneys reached a settlement over a lawsuit spearheaded by Equality Florida and Family Equality, representing groups of parents, students and educators. Filed shortly after the law went into effect, the lawsuit sought to challenge the “Don’t Say Gay” law as a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools. After a dismissal by a federal judge, the suit went to appeals court, where the settlement was finally reached.

Plaintiffs argued that the law was intentionally vague in order to inspire fear and self-censorship concerning LGBTQ+ topics. The settlement now clarifies some of that vague language, namely what is considered “classroom instruction.” Florida schools may discuss LGBTQ+ topics and keep LGBTQ+ books in libraries as long as it is not officially part of the curriculum.

According to the Associated Press, the Florida Board of Education must now send guidance to all state school districts saying that the law does not prohibit discussions of LGBTQ+ people, the existence of Gay-Straight Alliances or the enforcement of anti-bullying programs. In addition, the law must apply equally to straight and cis people where it does restrict discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“What the settlement now makes clear is that students can say ‘gay’ in Florida schools, that students can say ‘trans’ in schools … and not have to deal with censorship from the weaponized vagueness of the law,” Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, said.

At the same time, the settlement does not remove the “Don’t Say Gay” law from the books. And even as it defangs the law in Florida, “Don’t Say Gay” has already spawned numerous copycats in other states like Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

DeSantis, who has frequently downplayed the law’s intention, called the settlement “a major win against the activists who sought to stop Florida’s efforts to keep radical gender and sexual ideology out of the classrooms of public school children in kindergarten through third grade.”

“Today’s mutually agreed settlement ensures that the law will remain in effect and it is expected that the case will be dismissed by the Court imminently,” his statement concluded.

Although DeSantis may be putting a spin on the news to avoid a show of weakness, it is true that the damage is in many ways already done.

Regardless, advocates are celebrating the settlement. “What this settlement does, is, it re-establishes the fundamental principal, that I hope all Americans agree with, which is every kid in this country is entitled to an education at a public school where they feel safe, their dignity is respected and where their families and parents are welcomed,” Roberta Kaplan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said. “This shouldn’t be a controversial thing.”

Don't forget to share:
Read More in Impact
The Latest on INTO