The Parental Rights in Education or “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which recently was signed into law by Flordia Gov. Ron Desantis, was bound to be challenged in the legal system. Disney has said the company would work to get the law repealed. Florida Republicans have threatened to revoke Disney’s “quasi-government privileges.”
Politico reports that “a group of LGBTQ advocates, including organizations, students, parents, and a teacher,” have joined together to sue Florida and the DeSantis administration in federal court Thursday. This is the first challenge since the bill has been signed into law and probably not the last.
The complaint argues HB 1557 violates the First and Fourteen Amendments, citing “extraordinary government intrusion on the free speech and equal protection rights” in public schools. It also speaks to the perceived vagueness of the law itself, highlighting “nobody knows exactly what the statutory language covers.”
“LGBTQ students and parents are unsure about whether they can express or discuss their identities, and they worry about detention or other possible discipline or exclusion that may result if they do,” reads the complaint, filed in Florida’s northern district in Tallahassee. “The subordination and erasure of LGBTQ life that H.B. 1557 seeks to achieve has already begun—and it has already imposed concrete harms on countless children and families in Florida.”
Attorneys also wrote about the mental and physical health ramifications for the LGBTQ community and the teachers at school.
“The law not only stigmatizes and silences those vulnerable students, exacerbating risks to their welfare, but also threatens school officials who foster a safe and inclusive environment for them,” attorneys wrote in the complaint.
Deputy press secretary for DeSantis, Bryan Griffin, claims the law doesn’t “prohibit student prompted discussion.” However, the law stops teachers from leading classroom lessons on gender identity or sexual orientation for kindergarten through third-grade students.
“This law does not single out any particular group, orientation, or identity. It does not prohibit student-prompted discussion,” Bryan Griffin, deputy press secretary for DeSantis, wrote in a statement in response to the legal challenge. “We are confident it is legal to protect young children and parental rights.”