February 24, 2022

GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, and Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ community, are responding to the passage of two bills by the Florida House of Representatives, the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” and the “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” bill banning classroom conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Polling in Florida shows that more Florida voters oppose the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill than support it. The bill passed the Florida House today, 69-47.

“Stop W.O.K.E.,” sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila of Miami Springs and Sen. Manny Diaz of Miami, passed the Florida House, 74-41. It limits conversation at school and workplaces about root causes of injustice and discrimination against women, LGBTQ people and Black people.

Out State Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby appealed to her colleagues to reject the bill and the rhetoric supporting it, saying, “I too am America. Just like my colleagues. Just like those who've sought to tell me how to feel in this moment. Just like those who claim Black folks cling to victimhood. We aren't clinging to victimhood -- we want you to see us. Because we too are America.” 

“Don’t Say Gay/Trans” is sponsored by Rep. Joe Harding and Sen. Dennis Baxley (text of the bill here). The bill has received widespread alarm from LGBTQ parents and parents of LGBTQ children, like Judy Shepard and Chasten Buttigieg. Other notables who have spoken out include Florida Rep. Val Demings, FL state Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos G. Smith, actor George Takei, and author Keith Boykin.

Out State Rep. Carlos G. Smith wore a rainbow ribbon, as he usually does, to honor those impacted by the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando. Rep. Smith said he wore the ribbon upside down today as a sign the LGBTQ community in Florida is in distress, and delivered a message to queer youth: “I want them to know this: you are loved. You are supported. You are worth fighting for.”

Statement from Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith:
“This bill is so extreme that it inspired a rare rebellion within House GOP ranks as seven Republican lawmakers broke with leadership and opposed passage. Those voting NO include a teacher and a child welfare advocate demonstrating that those who work most closely with children and students understand how damaging this legislation truly is. The Florida Senate should follow their lead and reject this extreme legislation.”

Statement from GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis:
"With these extreme and harmful bills, a majority of Florida Republican lawmakers are only making life harder for teachers and LGBTQ students by trying to ban conversation about LGBTQ people, Black history, and discrimination across society. Bills about “parents’ rights” should recognize LGBTQ people are parents too, or that parents have LGBTQ children, and their voices matter. More young people are LGBTQ than in any previous generation - they and their stories will not be silenced. School should be a safe space for everyone to learn about themselves and each other. Florida’s Senate should refuse to codify censorship and set back their state’s future.”

The bills move to the Florida Senate next.

GLAAD has a Guide for Media Covering anti-LGBTQ Legislation here. GLAAD’s checklist for accurate coverage includes recommendations to seek facts from experts in medicine and education over opinions from public figures; to include LGBTQ voices in all stories about LGBTQ issues; include LGBTQ parents and families in discussions about “parents’ rights;” and include context about bills’ impact on vulnerable youth.

Research to include in your coverage:

  • Gallup data released last week shows the overall LGBTQ population increased to 7%, including 21% of Gen Z (ages 18-24).
  • GLAAD and Equality Florida have been tracking Gov. Ron Desantis' policies, rhetoric and actions targeting LGBTQ people via the GLAAD Accountability Project.
  • 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say debates in the states restricting rights of transgender people negatively impacted their mental health.
  • LGBTQ youth and their doctors reported increased suicide, crisis contacts, and families in crisis forced to move from states targeting their children.
  • 2022 is already a record-setting year for state legislation targeting LGBTQ people, with  nearly 200 bills proposed. This follows 2021’s unprecedented number of bills targeting transgender Americans’ access to education, athletics, healthcare, and bathrooms. 
  • Polls show wide support for laws protecting LGBTQ people - 76%. Less than one in five Americans (19%) oppose nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans.