Florida’s anti-LGBTQ laws pushing families to leave

More than 40% of parents want to leave the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws.

LOS ANGELES – Research from the Williams Institute and Clark University has found that 40% of Florida parents want to move because of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

According to the research, 11% said they were very likely to leave in the next two years. The barriers to moving were employment, caregiving responsibilities and finances.

Florida has been among the most active states in passing anti-LGBTQ laws, including the Don’t Say Gay law, gender-affirming care bans and policies that make it easier to remove materials that some find “objectionable.”

Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act, went into effect in July 2022. The bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity through 3rd grade. In May 2023, the Florida legislature expanded the original law to ban classroom instruction on LGBTQ issues through 8th grade.

The research used a sample of 106 Florida parents and examined their opinion on the law and expansion. One third of parents disagreed with the original law and 46% disagreed with the expansion.

About 90% of those who disagreed with it said it provoked hostility toward LGBTQ people.

“It is important to understand the diverse viewpoints Florida parents have around the state’s Don’t Say Gay law,” said study author Abbie E. Goldberg, professor of psychology at Clark University and an affiliated researcher at the Williams Institute. “These parents live in the same neighborhoods and send their children to the same schools. They have the power to work across differences to build strong communities that support the well-being of all children.”

Other findings include:

  • Two-thirds of Democrats and more than half of Independents disagreed with the Don’t Say Gay law. Almost 90% of Republicans approved of both the original law and its expansion.
  • Parents with a college degree or higher were significantly less likely to agree with the Don’t Say Gay law than those with less than a bachelor’s degree.
  • Parents with LGBTQ friends and family were significantly less likely to agree with the law than those without LGBTQ people in their lives.

Since the law went into effect, parents said they’ve seen the removal of books and signs for LGBTQ inclusivity. About 12% of parents said their children had expressed fear of school because of the law and 9% were scared of staying in Florida.

Earlier this year, both the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Florida have issued travel advisories for Florida, advising LGBTQ people to not visit the state.

Read the full study here.

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