Equality Florida Monday launched the first of two TV ads that are meant to shine a spotlight on the dangers Gov. Ron DeSantis’s legislative agenda poses to LGBTQ+ youth.
The 30-second ads feature depictions of what the organization says will happen if both the "don’t say gay" bill and the Stop Woke Act are passed into law. The ads were produced by Equality Florida as part of its campaign against the legislation. The second ad will premiere Wednesday.
In the commercial that premiered Monday, a student goes up to present a paper on her heroes: her two moms. However, when she refers to her moms, an alarm buzzes. Her teacher tells her to continue and to be proud. It ends with an announcer calling for the teacher to head to the principal’s office.
Both bills are being fast-tracked through Florida’s legislature. The bills have been criticized by parent groups, child welfare experts, and educators who say they would censor class discussions about U.S. history and society.
“Not since the days of Anita Bryant have we seen such craven attempts by a leader to build political power by targeting and demonizing LGBTQ people,” Nadine Smith, Equality Florida executive director, said in a press release. “Governor DeSantis is pushing legislation to curb free speech, propagandize school curriculums, and monitor classroom conversations, private workplaces, and doctor’s offices — all in order to outflank Donald Trump to the right and build an onramp to run for President in 2024. As a parent of a 10-year-old, these bills fail to protect my child and our family. It is a tool for the state to censor and that encourages lawsuits against schools as a means of intimidation.”
The "don’t say gay" bill would ban discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in primary grades. The Stop Woke Act would allow parents of students to sue schools teaching critical race theory or anything that could make students uncomfortable. Its impact could go so far as to could affect corporate-level HR training, The Washington Post reports.
Critical race theory is a way of studying how laws and policies go into building and perpetuating a system of racism. As the Post notes, it’s not even taught in Florida schools and has already been banned by DeSantis.
Equality Florida pointed to a recent cancellation of a civil rights history seminar in the state over concerns it would be viewed as critical race theory. The school district feared the presenter would bring up the framework.
“While the governor and GOP leadership invoke “parental rights” as justification for censorship and surveillance, the bills Republican leadership is pushing actually diminish the rights of parents. For example, anyone, even someone who doesn’t have a child in schools, is able to object to library books and instructional materials and deny access to every student as a result,” Smith explained.
The White House and President Joe Biden condemned the "don't say gay" legislation last week.
“Just imagine what it would feel like to be a kid watching the leaders in your state bully you through legislation that tries to erase your existence. These types of attacks are the root cause of the mental health crisis that LGBTQI+ face,” a White House statement said. “The president wants LGBTQI+ young people who may be feeling scared or alone because of these legislative attacks to know that they are loved exactly for who they are, and that he won’t stop fighting for the protections and safety they deserve.”
Biden then send out a tweet calling the legislation "hateful" and assuring LGBTQ+ Americans that "you are loved and accepted just as you are."