by Joe Siegel
OutSFL, an LGBTQ publication based in Wilton Manors, Fla., has announced the launch of a newspaper at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
In a December 21 column, publisher and editor Jason Parsley explained that the newspaper’s new venture was created because, “Education is under attack in Florida from elected Republicans. Higher education has long been immune to such pressure from conservatives, but not anymore.”
“Over the past couple of years,” Parsley continued, “Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed several bills into law which take direct aim at universities such as dismantling diversity initiatives on campus and prohibiting any instruction that makes anyone feel ‘guilt, anguish or other psychological distress’ related to race, color, national origin or sex because of actions committed in the past. … These laws are meant to send a chilling effect through our entire education system. It worked.”
The content of the new publication will be focused on the LGBTQ community at FAU, which is based in Boca Raton with satellite campuses in cities such as Fort Lauderdale and Davie.
“Higher education used to be immune from those types of attacks,” Parsley noted. “[State officials] are dismantling diversity, inclusion, and equity programs on college campuses around the state. We felt this is where we needed to be, we need to be right in the fire.”
In the spring of 2022, DeSantis signed into law HB 1557, referred to by its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law took effect on July 1, 2022.
The “Don’t Say Gay” law stated that its purpose was to “prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner.” Two different federal lawsuits are pending that challenge the 2022 law. HB 1069, which was passed and signed into law in May 2023, expands on the classroom instruction provisions of the 2022 law and adds sweeping new provisions prohibiting the use of pronouns consistent with one’s gender identity, expands book banning procedures, and censors health curriculum and instruction. The new law took effect on July 1, 2023. HB 1069 has been referred to as the “Don’t Say They” law due to its gender pronoun restrictions.
Parsley is a graduate of FAU and has connections with its journalism school as well as with writers for the student newspaper. In the past, he has hired many student journalists for freelance and part-time work.
The new newspaper, OutFAU, will be student-led.
Whether or not there will be a backlash against the newspaper is unknown. Parsley said FAU is a commuter school not known for its political activism.
“If there is opposition, we welcome the fight,” Parsley said. “Gov. DeSantis wants to silence and erase the [LGBTQ] community. FAU had a center for inclusion and diversity and they shut it down over the summer. The university’s web page about honoring diversity has also been deleted. They’re trying to silence and erase not only the LGBTQ community, but all marginalized groups.”
Parsley said if OutFAU is a success, OutSFL hopes to expand their outreach to other campuses in the state.
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