Families of LGBTQ students are suing Florida for the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill, saying it “effectively silences” students and their families, according to the lawsuit.
The Parental Rights in Education bill, deemed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, prohibits teachers from giving lessons on sexuality and gender ideology in schools through the third grade. Several families of LGBTQ students in Florida filed a lawsuit to stop the law, claiming it violates the First Amendment because of its “viewpoint-based discrimination,” according to the lawsuit.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law in March 2022.
The families claim they have been “chilled and/or forced to self-censor by taking care not to mention their own or a family member’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity in school contexts when they otherwise would engage in such speech and expression,” because of the law, the lawsuit states. The law allegedly “impermissibly chills the exercise of all Plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected speech, based on the content and viewpoint of their speech.”
LGBTQ materials have been censored in Orange County and Indian River County as a result of the law, the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs say their children have been deprived of “access to information and ideas, and curtailing classroom instruction, for a reason not reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical concern.”
“This law will prevent our two youngest children, rising first and third graders, from discussing their older non-binary sibling in the classroom for fear of their teacher or their school getting in trouble. The law also robs them of the opportunity of discussing their family like other non-LGBTQ+ children. It’s heartbreaking to know that my children may be bullied because this law paints our family as shameful. Every child deserves the right to celebrate their family in the form that it exists,” plaintiffs Jennifer and Matthew Cousins, parents of four, said in a press release.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Southern Legal Counsel, representing the parents, did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
The law protects younger students from being taught lessons “that may be inappropriate or too complex for young minds,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody told Fox News. Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the law ends “immoral” action in classrooms.
The Florida Department of Education did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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