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The Southern Poverty Law Center Urges Gov. DeSantis to Veto House Bill 1557; Reimagine Ways to Empower All Florida Students and Parents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Last week, the Florida Senate passed HB 1557, the Don’t Say Gay bill, which will ban lessons regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grades.

The following statement is from Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director with Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund:

“By moving HB 1557 forward, the Florida legislature continues the shameful trend of targeting LGBTQ+ students, families, and allies. If signed, there is no doubt this bill will worsen the school climate for all Florida students, threatening their ability to learn and thrive in an inclusive, respectful, and tolerant environment. The Don’t Say Gay bill will also prevent teachers and schools from being able to help students who feel bullied or isolated.

“Instead of legislating away the rights of LGBTQ+ students, families, and teachers, we ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto this bad bill and to reimagine ways to help all students excel in a welcoming environment. Immediately restoring the anti-bullying page on the Florida Department of Education’s website, including all pro-LGBTQ+ links and advocacy resources, would be a great start. The state’s anti-bullying policy will empower educators and parents with behavioral guidelines that ensure schools remain safe spaces.

“Parental rights should not be more important than a welcoming and tolerant learning environment for LGBTQ+ students, teachers, parents, and allies. Every student deserves a safe environment in which to learn and thrive. LGBTQ+ students, families, and allies do not need politicians targeting them and working against their best interests. We urge Gov. DeSantis to put all of Florida’s students first by vetoing this bill.”