Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill into law on Monday (March 28), despite widespread protests against the legislation.
The law –– which formal name is the Parental Rights in Education –– prohibits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms across the state. To enforce the new law, the bill gives parents authority to sue school districts where classroom discussions are held "by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity," the law states.
Before the law successfully passed within the state legislature, DeSantis' spokesperson made several tweets accusing people who opposed the bill were sexually grooming children. Opposers of the bill and advocates have vowed to fight back through the courts.
"We will not sit by and allow the governor's office to call us pedophiles," Equality Florida said in a statement after the bill passed in the state Senate, The Huffington Post reported.
"We will not allow this bill to harm LGBTQ Floridians. We will not permit any school to enforce this in a way that endangers the safety of children. We stand ready to fight for Floridians in court and hold lawmakers who supported this bill accountable at the ballot box."
President Joe Biden has come out against the law, saying it's a "hateful bill." Florida lawmakers who opposed it questioned how far of a reach the legislation has since the language is pretty vague–– will kindergarten to third grade teachers be able to read books with LGBTQ+ characters if the titles are "age-appropriate" as noted in the bill?
Advocates say that by cutting off classroom discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation, some students in need of a safe space may be further ostracized.
"There are things kids just don't want to tell their parents about or can't –– my sexual orientation was that for me," Janelle Perez, a candidate for a seat in the Florida state Senate told The Huff Post earlier this year. "My teacher provided me with a type of refuge that, at the time, I couldn't get at home."