Half of LGBTQ parents have considered moving out of Florida because of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Rainbow circle with family and a child

A first look at the impact of HB 1557 on LGBTQ parent families in Florida

New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Clark University finds nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) of LGBTQ parents surveyed in Florida are concerned about the impact of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill on them and their children.

Parents cited concerns that the bill would restrict them from speaking freely about their families and could affect their children’s sense of self and sense of safety. As a result, 56% of LGBTQ parents have considered moving out of Florida, and 17% have already taken steps to do so.

On March 28, 2022, the Florida Legislature passed HB 1557, the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity before the fourth grade. Any instruction after that must be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

Using data gathered from 113 LGBTQ parents in Florida, researchers examined the concerns and perspectives of LGBTQ parents regarding the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Almost one-quarter said they feared harassment by neighbors because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. And 21% said they were less out in their neighborhood, workplace, or community.

“Legislation can have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ parent families by cultivating a climate of fear and insecurity,” said study author Abbie E. Goldberg, Professor of Psychology at Clark University. “For LGBTQ+ parents without the means to move or send their children to private schools, the stress that this legislation creates will be significant.”

Additional Findings in the Survey

•            LGBTQ parents were concerned that “Don’t Say Gay” would restrict their children from speaking freely about their families (e.g., showing family photos in a school-based family tree project), negatively impact their sense of worth, and encourage a hostile school climate.

•            13% of the LGBTQ parents with LGBTQ children said that their children had expressed fears about living in Florida.

•            LGBTQ parents who expressed the greatest concern typically had school-aged children in public versus private schools.

•            LGBTQ parents reported that their children had already experienced harassment and bullying at school because they had LGBTQ parents and were prevented from being able to talk about their parents or their own LGBTQ identities.

•            LGBTQ parents surveyed coped by becoming more engaged in activism, avoiding the news, getting support from friends and family, and planning for the future (e.g., moving).

•            11% of parents considered moving their children to a school that is not bound by the “Don’t Say Gay” law, such as a private school.

Read the report here.