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Black LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Organization Condemns Passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

CONTACT: Brett Abrams | 

National Black Justice Coalition Warns Preventing Students from Truth Will Incentive Students to Lean Into Ignorance and Hate

FLORIDA — Moments ago, the Florida State Senate passed HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This bill would ban discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same-gender loving  (LGBTQ+/SGL) topics in the classroom. It also allows parents to take legal action against teachers if they discuss sexual orientation or gender identity.

In reaction to the legislation’s passage, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a leading Black LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, issued the following statement: 

“Shame on Florida. Our children, all children deserve better. 

“This legislation is a direct attack on LGBTQ+ kids, undermining their mental and emotional health, and fostering an environment of intolerance and ignorance. And for Black LGBTQ+/SGL kids, who already face barriers to feeling safe and supported at schools, those harms will be amplified tenfold.

“The reality is simple – this will hurt children, increase suicide rates among the LGBTQ+ kids, and hurt non-LGBTQ+ children who would benefit from learning to celebrate diversity and build skills that enable them to thrive in the real world. No one gains from watching elected officials bully vulnerable children and their families in an attempt to deny that LGBTQ+ people exist and deserve love and respect. 

“Make no mistake – this effort isn’t about making children safer in schools, and this certainly isn’t about making sure our students are educated and prepared for the real world. These are the political machinations of a fringe privileged minority: Mainly white, male, cisgender, heterosexual lawmakers with no experience as educators and with no compassion for children who did not ask to be born–who are often assumed to belong to minoritized communities. They are trying to force a post-truth world upon the whole of Florida, taking power from local school districts and teachers and pretending as though the truth isn’t worth telling, especially when it makes some of us uncomfortable.

“Attempting to prevent students from knowing and feeling comfortable using words, histories and experiences will not make those words, histories and experiences disappear. It will only make it easier for students to learn and perform the worst parts of ignorance and hate. 

“This is the kind of legislation we would expect from Putin’s Russia, not from one of the largest and most diverse states in the country.”

“Our students deserve better. Our country deserves better.”

The legislation now heads to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for signature. 

According to the Trevor Project, only 28% of middle and high school LGBTQ+ students reported ever learning about LGBTQ+ people or issues in their classes at school. GLSEN and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) found that 51.6% of Black LGBTQ+/SGL students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 40.2% because of their gender expression. The National Black Justice Coalition warns that this bill will create even more barriers for LGBTQ+/SGL students to feel safe, and supported at school. 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.