Tomorrow, community activists will rally at the steps of the St. Petersburg City Hall to protest against Florida's recently passed House Bill 1557
, dubbed by critics as the "Don't Say 'Gay'" bill.
The “OK To Say Gay” rally will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. and will feature speakers like Michele Rayner (State Representative and Candidate for Congress,) Caprice Edmond (Pinellas County School Board Member, District 7) and Nathan Bruemmer (LGBTQ+ Consumer Advocate).
Co-hosts of the event include St Pete for Change, Keep Pinellas Blue, Come Out St Pete and more.
The legislation would ban sexual orientation and/or gender identity discussions in public school classrooms. The bills would also halt students from discussing LGBTQ+ family members, friends or neighbors and prevent LGBTQ+ students from speaking about their own experiences. Additionally, the legislations would enable parents to sue a school district if they believed those topics were being “encouraged” during class.
Proponents of the bill argue that the legislation is geared toward ensuring that schools' curriculums are age-appropriate for young students and that parents have increased control over their children’s education.
One opponent of the bill, Equality Florida, announced
that it will take legal action against the bill if passed.
“Let us be clear: should its vague language be interpreted in any way that causes harm to a single child, teacher or family, we will lead legal action against the State of Florida to challenge this bigoted legislation,” Equality Florida said in a statement.
The bill has also put other organizations in a heated position. The Human Rights Campaign rejected a $5 million donation from Disney
as the company stayed silent regarding the legislation until last week.
HB 1557, now in Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk, was first introduced
by Rep. Joe Harding on Jan. 11 and has since gained traction within Florida legislators, including DeSantis himself.
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said in an interview last month. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff."
“The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what's going on in their schools."
After getting a 22-17 vote at the Florida Senate meeting on March 8, the bill is ready to be reviewed by DeSantis. If signed, the measure would go into effect in July.