Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education bill,” dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, at the end of March 2022. Veris Wealth Partners has always supported and will always support LGBTQ+ rights and equality. We are disturbed by Florida’s adoption of this law and the news that lawmakers from at least 19 other states are now considering similar legislation. We are devastated to think of the impact this is already having on LGBTQ+ families and especially children.

Language in the Florida law prohibits “classroom instruction” and “discussion” about “sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through third grade “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” in Florida’s schools. Because the bill does not specify when such instruction would be considered “age-appropriate” we believe it is very likely that it will directly impact children in higher grades as well.

The law also prohibits personnel in Florida’s schools from withholding information from parents regarding a student’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.” We believe this is widely thought to mean that school counsellors will have to inform parents if a student told them they were gay or trans – even if such disclosure could be harmful to the student. If a Florida parent feels that a school is in violation of any part of this law, the bill gives them the right to request an investigation by a magistrate or sue the school district at the school district’s expense. We believe the consequences of this legislation for LGBTQ+ children threatens their self-esteem and in some cases will be life-threatening.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in response to this legislation, “banning discussion of LGBTQ people in school is an effort to silence and shame, to divide and disrespect, when all students should feel safe to learn about themselves and each other.”

Many experts agree that laws that target LGBTQ+ youth and families increase the dangers for kids that are already at higher risk of bullying and suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Research conducted by The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ kids who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in school were 23% less likely to report a suicide attempt.

How Businesses Are Responding to this Legislation

The Walt Disney Company announced a pause to political donations in Florida and vowed to help get the law repealed, but they are not the only corporation taking a stand.

Many business leaders are publicly speaking out against these kinds of laws. Over 240 corporations, including many that joined in response to the Florida law, have signed the Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation produced by Freedom for All Americans and Human Rights Campaign.  

This statement declares, “As business leaders dedicated to equal treatment, respect, and opportunity for all – as well as to improving the financial and investment climate across the country – we call for public leaders to abandon or oppose efforts to enact this type of discriminatory legislation and ensure fairness for all Americans.”

7 Action Steps You Can Take to Help LGBTQ+ Youth Now

As a Veris client, colleague, partner or collaborator, we also wished to share with you concrete actions that you can take in support of LGBTQ+ Youth. Many of us felt helpless watching this proposed legislation become law in Florida – but we can take action and we hope you will consider one or many of the following action steps!

1.Write your legislators.

If you live in Florida or any of the other states currently considering anti LGBTQ legislation call or write your elected officials to share your opinion. For help crafting your message, the ACLU offers a guide with suggestions for Writing Your Elected Officials.

2. Donate to the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union works to protect the rights of LGBTQ people across the nation. To support their efforts you can make a donation to the ACLU. To make an impact at the local level, you can make a donation directly to the ACLU of Florida.

3. Support the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC has vowed to fight to repeal the Parental Rights in Education law in Florida. At the national level, HRC is working to pass The Equality Act, new legislation that would “provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.” 

4. Track anti LGBTQ legislation aimed at students.

A record number of curriculum censorship and hostile school climate bills have been introduced in 2022. You can track these laws and visit the Movement Advancement Project’s Policy Spotlight: Curriculum Censorship & Hostile School Climate Bills

5. Drive change through conversations about LGBTQ issues.

An Ally’s Guide to Terminology: Talking About LGBTQ People & Equality, produced by MAP & GLAAD, is a free resource to help allies better understand issues that impact LGBTQ issues and language so that you can talk about these matters in a way that will drive positive change.

6. Support The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline.

The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline are suicide prevention and crisis intervention organizations for LGBTQ youth and an advocate for LGBTQ youth mental health. These 501(c)(3) organization provides free counseling services and resources to help prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project also works at the federal, state, and local level to address factors that increase the risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth. Donate here to The Trevor Project or here to Trans Lifeline.

7. Share Transgender, Non-Binary & Gender Fluid Reading Lists

The Veris team in San Francisco has children attending the Berkeley Unified School District. BUSD developed multiple reading lists, organized by grade level, represent books published in the last 5 years that are devoted to celebrating, representing, and affirming transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid identities and expression. Please feel free to share these lists with friends and family to continue to educate and build awareness, and to break down assumptions and combat intolerance. Transgender Reading Lists.

Veris recognizes these efforts as an element of broader movements that include criminalization of reproductive choices as well as restrictions on truthful education about race in American history (dubbed “Critical Race Theory”). As we approach the next election cycle we anticipate LGBTQ+ people, Reproductive Justice, and issues of Racial Justice will become divisive campaign issues. We recognize the humanity of and harm to people who find their lives and the safety of their existence to be listed as campaign slogans. We stand in support of these communities and we hope you will join us in taking one or many of these suggested steps.

To a better world, together,

The Veris Team

The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only. The contents including, without limitation, any forecasts and projections, simply reflect the opinions and views of the authors. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass. Additionally, this document contains information derived from third party sources.  Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such third-party sources and take no responsibility therefore.