Jan 19, 2023 - News

LGBTQ advocates prepare to fight possible "Don't Say Gay" expansion

protester holds a sign that says "Gay" wearing a tshirt that says "say love say pride say gay"

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami Beach on March 13. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Florida schools are still feeling the effects in the first school year of the Parental Rights in Education Act, referred to by critics as "Don't Say Gay." And LGBTQ advocates in Tampa Bay are bracing to fight expansions to the law in 2023.

Driving the news: Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told reporters last month she would “not be averse” to a bill extending the law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten through third grade to include additional school grade levels, News4Jax reports.

What they're saying: "We have every reason to believe that will just be one of the legislative fights we could be staring down in Florida's session in March," Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of St. Petersburg-based LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida, tells Axios.

  • Equality Florida is stepping up its fight against anti-LGBTQ laws this year, in part by investing in more advertisements.
  • "We're going to need hundreds of thousands of people showing up in our school board meetings, in the Capitol during session and at every one of these hearings. We'll keep chipping away at them," Pollitzer said.

Catch up fast: Months after the law went into effect last July, schools started making changes to avoid violating the legislation amid increased scrutiny.

What we're watching: Next Wednesday, the Board of Education will vote on a proposed rule that would take away an educator's teaching certificate if they don't notify parents of any changes to their child's "health or wellbeing," which includes a student using a different name as well as pronouns and bathrooms.

  • Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit against the Parental Rights in Education Act was refiled in November and remains pending.
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