Florida's settles "Don't Say Gay" lawsuit as LGBTQ+ advocates celebrate wins

Tallahassee, Florida - A new settlement agreement clarifies which aspects of Florida's anti-LGBTQ+ "Don't Say Gay" law may be enforced in public schools.

A new settlement indicates how Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law may and may not be enforced in public schools.
A new settlement indicates how Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law may and may not be enforced in public schools.  © Octavio Jones / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Parents, students, teachers, and advocacy organizations reached a settlement Monday with the Florida State Board of Education, Florida Department of Education, and school districts regarding the Parental Rights in Education Act, known by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" law.

The legislation, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2022, placed severe limits on discussion and representation of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools for students in kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis later announced plans to expand the measure to all grade levels.

Under the new settlement, several of the most radical aspects of the law have been nullified, advocacy groups said in a press release.

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References to LGBTQ+ people and issues are permitted in classroom discussion and academic work.

Gay-Straight Alliances are allowed, as are book fairs that include books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes. The law does not place restrictions on library books, so long as they are not used in classroom instruction.

The settlement agreement also safeguards anti-bullying measures and does not require the removal of safe space stickers and areas for LGBTQ+ people.

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups celebrate the settlement

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wanted to expand measures introduced by the "Don't Say Gay" law to all grade levels.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wanted to expand measures introduced by the "Don't Say Gay" law to all grade levels.  © JARED C. TILTON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Many LGBTQ+ rights advocates have celebrated the settlement as a victory.

"This settlement not only reaffirms the rights of LGBTQ+ students and educators to live and speak openly but also marks a significant step towards rectifying the damage inflicted by the 'Don't Say Gay or Trans' law. It's a testament to what we can achieve when we stand united against discrimination and for the dignity of all LGBTQ+ people in Florida," said Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith.

"This victory is more than a legal triumph; it's a beacon of hope and a reminder of the power of collective action," she continued. "It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to a Florida where everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live authentically and without fear."

A notice of the settlement agreement will now be sent to every Florida school district.

Cover photo: Octavio Jones / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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