New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Clark University finds 40% of Florida parents surveyed said they would like to move out of Florida—20% very much so and 19% somewhat—because of the state’s Don’t Say Gay law.
Almost 11% said they were very likely to move in the next two years, and another 6% said that it was somewhat likely. The most common barriers to relocating outside of Florida included employment factors, caregiving responsibilities, and financial limitations.
On July 1, 2022, Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the Don’t Say Gay law, went into effect. 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.
Using data gathered from a diverse sample of 106 parents in Florida, researchers examined their perspectives on the state’s Don’t Say Gay law and its expansion. One-third disagreed with the law, and 46% disagreed with the expansion. However, almost half agreed with the original law and 43% agreed with its expansion.
There were stark differences in how the parents viewed the state’s Don’t Say Gay law. For instance, 90% of parents who disagreed with the law felt that it provoked hostility toward LGBTQ people, while 68% of those in favor of the law felt it protected parents’ rights.
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 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.
- Two-thirds of Democrats and more than half of Independents disagreed with the Don’t Say Gay In addition, 80% of Democrats and 60% of Independents did not approve of the expansion to older children. 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.
- About half of parents surveyed said that the Don’t Say Gay law targets LGBTQ students, othering them (50%), provokes hostility against the LGBTQ community (47%), heightens tensions between teachers (46%), and protects parents’ rights and empowers parents (45%).
- In the year after Don’t Say Gay was enacted
- 19% of parents surveyed said they observed the removal of books from school libraries and classrooms, and 13% observed the removal of signifiers of LGBTQ inclusivity such as Safe Space stickers.
- 12% of participants said that their children had expressed fear, anxiety, or avoidance of school related to the law, and 9% expressed fears about the future living in Florida.
- 16% of participants said that they were more involved in their children’s school (e.g., to make sure their voice was heard)
- 11% of participants had participated in advocacy against Don’t Say Gay legislation, while 5% had participated in advocacy in support of it.