Radical state lawmakers are doing everything they can to silence and erase LGBTQ+ people from classrooms, sports fields, workplaces and the public sphere.
THE FLORIDA EFFECT
On July 1, Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” and “Stop WOKE” laws took effect.
The former silences teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ people and issues, further stigmatizing and isolating LGBTQ+ kids and undermining existing protections for them. It also prevents teachers from providing safe, inclusive classrooms for all students. Some students, for example, will be forbidden to talk about their LGBTQ+ families.
The latter limits protected speech in classrooms and workplaces with more than 15 employees by censoring honest dialogue about systemic racism, gender and racial discrimination. It also gives employees the right to file discrimination claims against employers who offer trainings or discussions about Black history, LGBTQ+ issues and other concepts of injustice and oppression, thereby stifling good-faith conversation and debate. This is the exact opposite of everything we have been working toward.
THE DARK NEW REALITY OF CENSORSHIP
Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “We’re staring at a new reality where LGBTQ+ students may wonder if they’re allowed to even acknowledge their own sexuality or gender identity; a reality where young people with LGBTQ+ family members may be forced to remain silent while others can speak freely; a reality where LGBTQ+ school staff may be forbidden from so much as mentioning their loved ones… This restriction on free speech flies in the face of one of our most sacred rights.”
IMPACT ON LGBTQ+ KIDS
LGBTQ+ kids already face real threats and obstacles. 86% of LGBTQ+ youth report they have been targets of bullying, harassment or assault at school. Studies have shown that bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ youth contribute to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences and academic underachievement. “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” and “Stop WOKE” are vile examples of state-sponsored discrimination, bullying and harassment — and these laws must be repealed!
We all need to be on guard, because what Florida has done has become a playbook for other states to follow. Alabama, Georgia and South Dakota have already passed similar censorship laws, and other bills are being considered in Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
In addition to silencing teachers and students, extremist state officials are also trying to ban books about LGBTQ+ topics which are important sources of information and support to so many LGBTQ+ people. Book censorship laws have already been passed in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
HOW WE’RE FIGHTING BACK
Over 20,000 HRC members signed petitions and sent constituent letters to state representatives opposing these kinds of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. In partnership with Freedom for All Americans, HRC also rallied over 280 major companies to sign our “Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ+ State Legislation” to dissuade lawmakers from pushing censorship and discriminatory legislation forward.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Turn your outrage into action. Let people know that our books matter, that open dialogue matters and that we won’t let radical politicians tell us what we can read, learn, teach, discuss and debate. We will not be censored, erased and forced back into the closet.
Sign Up for our Virtual Summer of Outrage Actions: Text OUTRAGE to 472472 from your mobile phone. (Msg&dataratesmayapply. Recurring msgs. TxtSTOP2quit. HELP4info.)
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