top of page
  • Nic F. Anderson

Mayor Announces Florida Campaign Denouncing 'Don't Say Gay' Law; Invites Floridians to Move to NYC

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a new campaign which denounces the “Don’t Say Gay” bill through digital billboards and creative ads campaign which will appear in five Florida cities.

The campaign will appear in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach and will run from April 4 through May 29. It’s estimated to deliver 5 million impressions.

“The extremist culture war targeting our LGBTQ+ community is hateful and harmful. Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is the latest shameful measure… We’re the city of Stonewall. We fight for our LGBTQ+ neighbors, especially our children. To the families living in fear of this state-sponsored discrimination: You're welcome in New York City. Our arms and hearts are wide open, embracing every child of every identity. Always,” Adams said when the Don’t Say Gay bill passed on March 28.

The Don’t Say Gay bill bans any instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade in public schools. The bill reads: "Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

Those in favor of the bill claim it is meant for parents to determine when and in what manner LGBTQ+ topics are introduced to their children – it also gives parents an option to sue the school district their child(ren) are in if the policy is violated.

“I am the mayor of New York City, but I have a message for Florida’s LGBTQ+ community — come to a city where you can say and be whoever you want,” Adams said. “Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is the latest shameful, extremist culture war targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Today, we say to the families living in fear of this state-sponsored discrimination that you will always have a home in New York City.”

During a press release before the Don’t Say Gay law was signed, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said that teaching kindergarten-aged children that “they can be whatever they want to be” is “inappropriate for children. “It’s not something that’s appropriate for any place, but especially not in Florida.”

“Educators work every day to make New York City public schools safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth,” New York City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks said. “From what we teach, to how we care for young people, we create schools that affirm and lift up the students and honor who they are. Children bring the totality of who they are into our classrooms, and the cruel actions being taken across this country to attack LGBTQ+ children is contrary to everything we believe in as educators.”

Those against the bill say the policy will hurt LGBTQ+ children. A lawsuit has been filed against DeSantis on the behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality. The group says the policy violates protected rights of free speech, equal protection and the due process of students and families.

The filing by Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP and the National Center for Lesbian Rights aim to block the law from taking effect. The lawsuit names Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, and other Florida state education officials as defendants.

“LGBTQ+ youth deserve the same things that all young people deserve: to be seen, to be heard, and to be respected,” Kevin Jennings, CEO, Lambda Legal; and founder, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network said.

Students in Florida and across the world have been vocal about their disdain of the new policy. They have organized walk outs, protests and turned to social media protesting the policy.

Beverly Tillery, executive director, New York City Anti-Violence Project said, “Attempting to silence and deny LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, the support they need is violence and can lead to poor mental health outcomes, interruptions in education, and youth homelessness.”

The Trevor Project has released several reports and surveys that have found that LGBTQ+ youth already face higher health and suicide risks compared to their cisgender and straight counterparts. However, when LGBTQ+ youth are able to access spaces which affirm their sexual orientation and gender identity, there are lower rates of suicide attempts.

“Over 40 percent of the 2,000 LGBTQ+ youths Ali Forney Center sees every year come from outside the Empire State, and a majority come to us from the south,” said Alex Roque, executive director, Ali Forney Center (AFC). “New York City has been a beacon of acceptance, hope, and love.”

Photo of Eric Adams | City of New York

Daniel Dromm, LGBTQ+ activist; former chair, New York City Council Committee on Finance said, “As a New York City public school teacher for 25 years, I have news for Florida: Students are already saying gay. They see us on the news and on television shows. They know that LGBTQ+ people are their family, friends, and neighbors. These ads will reaffirm New York City’s commitment to creating an inclusive school environment, in sharp contrast to the discriminatory policies of Governor DeSantis.”

According to the city, the creative content for the campaign was donated by WPP Companies, VMLY&R, GroupM, BCW, H+K Strategies, and Kinetic and the ad space was donated by Kinetic.

bottom of page