Attorneys general challenge Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ law

ABOVE: D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine. Photo via Racine’s Facebook.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced that he is leading a coalition of 18 other states’ attorneys general opposing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

Racine, alongside New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, filed an amicus curiae brief last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of Florida.

The brief makes two main points:

  • Florida’s law is unconstitutional. Although Florida claims the act is intended to protect children and preserve parental choice, the attorneys general have curricula in place that allow for age-appropriate discussion of LGBTQ+ issues while respecting parental views on the topic.
  • The law is causing significant harms to students, parents, teachers, and other states. Non-inclusive educational environments have severe negative health impacts on LGBTQ+ students, resulting in increased rates of mental health disorders and suicide attempts. These harms extend to youth not just in Florida, but throughout the country.

“My office has a strong track record of fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in the District and across the country to make sure that everyone can simply be who they are and love who they love,” said Racine in a press release. “Florida’s law offers no benefit to anyone and in fact puts children and families in harm’s way. We will continue to use all of our authority to help strike down this law and any other hateful, discriminatory policies that threaten people’s fundamental freedoms.”

The attorneys general also contend that the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law is causing, by example, significant harm to students, parents and teachers in other states.

This brief challenges the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law, which outlaws “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade entirely.

The law also requires that the state education agency write new classroom instructions for standards that must be followed by grades 4-12. But the law does not define many of its key terms, like “classroom instruction,” so Florida teachers are already censoring themselves out of fear of the law. Indeed, the law allows a parent to bring a civil claim against a school district to enforce its vague prohibitions.

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