Study: LGBTQ+ Parents Consider Leaving Florida Due to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

Study: LGBTQ+ Parents Consider Leaving Florida Due to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

The Williams Institute found that more than half the parents surveyed were thinking of leaving the state.

According to a recent research, LGBTQ+ parents in Florida are highly concerned about the impact of the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “don’t say gay” law, with many considering leaving the state.

The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law analyzed data from 113 LGBTQ+ Florida parents regarding their reactions to a law that was passed by lawmakers and signed by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, last year. It became effective on July 1.

The legislation prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity instruction in public schools in grades K-3 and requires such instruction to be “age-appropriate” in later grades. “Many are concerned that the bill will not only result in restricted or nonexistent education about the existence of diverse sexual and gender identities, but it will result in a chilly or hostile school climate for LGBTQ educators, students, and families because it suggests that something is wrong with LGBTQ identities,” according to the Williams Institute.

“Legislation can have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ parent families by cultivating a climate of fear and insecurity,” research author Abbie E. Goldberg, a psychology professor at Clark University, stated in a press release from the Williams Institute. “For LGBTQ+ parents without the means to move or send their children to private schools, the stress that this legislation creates will be significant.”

Researchers discovered that 88 percent of parents polled were extremely or somewhat concerned about the law’s impact. Their fears about the effects on their children included “restricting them from speaking freely about their families, negatively impacting their sense of legitimacy, and encouraging a hostile school climate that would negatively impact their children,” according to the study. Those with LGBTQ+ children were especially concerned.

Several parents said their children had already had negative experiences, such as “harassment and bullying at school because they had LGBTQ+ parents, not being able to talk about their parents or their own LGBTQ+ identities at school or outside of school, and fears about continuing to live in Florida,” according to the study.

Fifty-six percent of the parents polled indicated they were considering leaving Florida, and 16.5 percent had already taken measures in that direction. “Indeed, participants said that they were saving money, looking for jobs, and exploring the housing markets outside of Florida,” according to the survey.

Others were taking various steps to safeguard their families, such as moving their children to a school that was not subject to the “don’t say gay” law, such as a private school. Some parents with school-age children talked about the law’s impact with their children.

Parents and families are coping in a number of ways. Some have turned to activism, while others have taken the opposite approach and avoided the news.

“Our county has become a focus of political intervention in the state and so they witness these debates playing out in the paper, online, and in our comments in the house,” said one activist respondent.

Participants of the poll were recruited through Equality Florida, LGBTQ+ employee groups, personal and professional contacts, and other sources, and the survey was available online from June 13 through September 9.

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