The civil rights organisation Equality Florida has made the highly unusual public intervention, advising queer people against travelling to the state
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 organisation, 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 enquiries” 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 organisation has stated that “the infamous Don’t Say LGBTQ law has made Florida synonymous with the anti-LGBTQ movement”.
BREAKING: Today, we took the extraordinary step of issuing a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state. pic.twitter.com/Wt8I5r90w9— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) April 12, 2023
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 28 March. 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 advice, 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 organisation sees as a necessary step to counter De Santis’s “extremist policies”.
In the conclusion of the advice, the organisation 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 begun, fighting 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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