Aug 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

16 states sue to block Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Attorneys general from 16 states have opposed Florida's controversial Parental Rights in Education Bill, arguing it lacks educational merit and harms students and teachers.

The big picture: The bill, which went into effect July 1, stoked backlash around the U.S., leading to protests among students and educators and criticism from corporate leaders and businesses. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had championed the legislation.

Catch up quick: The bill, called by critics the "Don't Say Gay" bill, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten through 3rd grade, Axios' Shawna Chen and Selene San Felica write.

  • For higher grades, instructions should be kept "age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate" by the state's academic standards.
  • The bill allows parents to sue schools and teachers that engage in the topic.

Details: A coalition of attorneys general filed an amicus brief Thursday that supports plaintiffs in the Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education case, which challenges Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education Act."

  • The plaintiffs include the District of Columbia, as well as New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, and Oregon.
  • The states argue in the brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, that the law poses harm to students and teachers.
  • The attorneys general also suggest states have trained teachers to address LGBTQ+ topics.

What they're saying: “It’s my job to stand up for people who are harmed by discrimination — and what harms Florida kids, parents, and teachers harms every one of us,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in a statement.

  • “Essential to being able to live with dignity, safety, and respect is being able to say loud and clear who you are as a human being, to speak your truth. But under this law, Florida kids can’t speak their truth. Their parents can’t speak their truth. Teachers can’t speak their truth."

Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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