On April 11, Equality Florida took what it described as an “extraordinary step” in issuing a travel advisory against LGBTQ+ people coming into the state. The organization, a civil rights enterprise dedicated to ensuring equality for all queer Floridians, cited the “risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long-term travel” as a reason for the advice.
Equality Florida has said that the unusual public intervention is a response to “a wave of safety inquiries” coming from members of the public following a spate of anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been passed in the state. In a section of the travel advisory statement titled ‘Censorship and Erasure of the LGBTQ Community’, the organization has stated that “the infamous Don’t Say LGBTQ law has made Florida synonymous with the anti-LGBTQ movement”.
The law that the company is referring to is the ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill, colloquially known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill, The controversial piece of legislation states that classroom teaching “on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three” or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate”. The bill was put to Florida’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives on February 24, 2022, where it swiftly passed, and was then signed into law by Florida Governor Ron De Santis on March 28. Before he passed the bill, De Santis declared that “we will make sure parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination”.
Among the reasons for issuing the advisory, Equality Florida has listed book bans in schools targeting LGBTQ+ titles, censorship of graduation speeches to remove LGBTQ+ references and the forced removal of rainbow flag imagery. Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida has said that the “heartbreaking” travel advice comes “with great sadness”, but is something that the organization sees as a necessary step to counter De Santis’s “extremist policies”.
In the conclusion of the advice, the organization struck a more hopeful tone, adding that “it is our hope that those Floridians who can, will stay and engage more deeply in the fight against the state’s all-out assaults on democracy and freedom”. It’s an undertaking that the students of Florida have already begunfighting every day to dismantle Ron De Santis’ ongoing reign of regression.
To read the full statement from Equality Florida, click here,
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