Florida Sued by Activists, Students, Parents, and Teachers Over LGBT School Censorship Bill

Florida’s law restricting discussion on LGBT topics in schools has been challenged by families and activists. They claim that the bill violates their First Amendment rights, as well as the 14th Amendment rights for students, parents and teachers.

H.B. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill (HB 1557), was adopted by Florida’s Legislature in January. It was signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was elected in March. Supporters of the bill insist its goal is to prevent inappropriate discussion of sex or gender before young children in kindergarten through third grades.

But that’s not what the law actually says—it instead bans discussion about “sexual orientation or gender identity” in those grades, not sex. The law also bans discussion on topics not appropriate or developmental for students, without specifying what that might mean. Students’ parents can take the schools to court in order to obtain financial damages for any violations to this vaguely-written law.

Equality Florida, an NGO, sued the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida Thursday. They were joined by gay and trans students and teachers in Florida and many gay couples who have children in public school.

H.B. According to the lawsuit, H.B.

This is a violation of the principles of equal protection and free speech. It seeks to ban discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. It offends due process by using broad and vague terms to define its prohibitions—thus inviting discriminatory enforcement and magnifying its chilling effect on speech. It is based on discriminatory motives and outdated, sex-based stereotypes which offend deep-rooted constitutional and legal requirements.

This lawsuit explains the meaning of “Don’t Say Gay”, even though it doesn’t explicitly prohibit the use of “gay” in the text. Families can sue for violations of terms not defined in the bill’s text.

H.B. H.B. The potential for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement here is self-evident—and it reflects a choice designed to maximize the law’s In terrorem (threatening) effects. H.B. 1557 therefore operates in an antithetical manner to reasonable expectations of an age- or developmentally appropriate education. Instead, it creates a scheme where parents can threaten school boards with litigation over vague terms and intimidate teachers to offer a biased, discriminatory curriculum.

According to the lawsuit, there are many possible discussions about LGBT issues. These topics don’t have to be inherently about sex. Can a student with two gay parents discuss their families during class discussion about civics?” Is it possible for a student to paint a portrait of their family in an art class? A lesbian student can refer to the coming out they experienced while reading a piece of literature. A history student studying civil rights can talk to a transgender student about their gender identity.

Believe those who claim that H.B. 1557 does not concern stopping. SexualTalking about children can lead to the assumption that “yes” is the correct answer. The bill does not say that, and this lawsuit is meant to emphasize that flaw. One lawmaker tried to change the bill’s language to prohibit discussion about “human sexuality and sexual activity”, but he was stopped.

Six counts are listed in the lawsuit for potential First Amendment and 14th Amendment violations. The plaintiffs claim that the law should not be considered “void of vagueness”, a legal principle which requires that all laws, especially criminal ones or those with similar penalties as this one, have precise definitions. Plaintiffs argue in this instance that all of the terms have not been defined and no “state standards” are yet available. This means they don’t know what legal discussion they could engage in without breaking H.B. 1557.

In addition, the suit claims that the bill breaches the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment. It targets LGBT persons and makes them different from others. According to the bill, teachers could discuss sexuality with their students as long as they are not discussing heterosexual behaviour.  Students claim the law is in violation of the First Amendment’s right to obtain information, even if it does not relate to their pedagogical concerns. They also argue that the chilling effect created by the law censors speech.

In the lawsuit, Florida is asked to stop Florida’s enforcement and implementation of H.B. 1557.

Recall that the most significant bill Florida ever passed was S.B. A federal judge has blocked 7072, the “anti-big tech” bill they drafted that tries to take control of social media platforms. This is because it violates the First Amendment rights for social media companies. Judge also warned that many of the provisions in the bill were “especially vague”, which is a problem because it threatened huge fines. You shouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happen here.