by Fred Kuhr
In light of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing his state’s Parental Rights in Education bill — also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — into law on March 28, LGBTQ media in Florida and across the country are saying “gay” and so much more.
South Florida Gay News, based in Wilton Manors, ran a front page headline on its February 3 issue declaring in all capital letters, “We Will ‘Say Gay’: Defy & Deny DeSantis.” The headline was accompanied by a full-page photo of a teenaged speaker at a rally in Wilton Manors to protest the legislation.
The newspaper followed that up with a March 3 cover that had the word “GAY” across the page in black type with the word repeated over and over again in smaller type but in the colors of the rainbow.
Publisher Norm Kent, in an editorial entitled, “We will say gay,” wrote, “I am hurting today, shocked and dismayed by the legislative terrorists in Florida trying to dismantle LGBTQ protections in our state. It is a regressive and stunning setback for us, conspiratorially orchestrated by an evil governor seeking a winning path to the Oval Office chair. I can’t believe it is happening, but he represents a national right-wing backpack to all things gay or transgender. He is your enemy, using fake ‘parental rights’ to suppress your own.”
According to Orlando-based Watermark, the law — which goes into effect June 1, the start of Pride Month — “will forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in school classrooms for certain grade levels. It will also ban discussion on those two topics in any grade level if not deemed ‘age-appropriate,’ although the law does not define what that means, and would allow a parent to sue a school district for violations.”
Florida publications such as Watermark have also covered the backlash the Walt Disney Company has endured due to its lackluster response to the bill, what with the Walt Disney World Resort located in Orlando and employing many Floridians, including member of the local LGBTQ community.
The Washington Blade in the nation’s capital went further with its criticism, with a front-page photo of DeSantis on its February 18 issue with the word “FASCIST” stamped across him.
In addition to its news coverage, the Blade ran an op-ed from Brandon J. Wolf, press secretary for the group Equality Florida, under the headline, “LGBTQ youth under attack in Fla.: Gov. Ron DeSantis putting political ambitions first.”
“As the next generation of LGBTQ young people looks on, we must send a clear message to them: You are perfect exactly as you are. And we will not allow the governor or his allies to use you as fodder for their runaway political ambitions,” Wolf wrote. “I remember the feeling of isolation everywhere I went. The sense of despair when butterflies exploded in my stomach after my crush passed by me in the hallway. The terror that a conversation around the dinner table might expose me for who I was. And I remember the safe spaces that saved my life. Those spaces are worth defending. And defending them from political assault is the task we are called to now.”
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