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NYC mayor to Floridians: Come here where you can say gay

 A group of people celebrate at St. Petersburg Pride in 2021.
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
A group of people celebrate at St. Petersburg Pride in 2021.

New York City is launching a digital billboard campaign to lure Floridians unhappy with their state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law to the Big Apple, Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday.

The billboards supporting LGBTQ visibility will be displayed in five major markets in Florida for eight weeks starting Monday, Adams, a Democrat, announced.

“This is the city of Stonewall. This is the city where we are proud to talk about how you can live in a comfortable setting and not be harassed, not be abused — not only as adults but also as young people,” Adams said at a City Hall news conference.

The announcement came one week after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

DeSantis and fellow Republicans say the new law affirms the right of parents, not teachers, to decide when children learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTQ groups have condemned the legislation, which they call the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Advocates say the law, which allows parents to sue school districts for noncompliance, will marginalize LGBTQ children and families.

A request for comment was sent to a spokesperson for DeSantis.

Adams called the Florida law “a targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ population.”

Messages on the digital billboards include: “People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ isn’t one of them” and “Come to the city where you can say whatever you want.” There will also be social media ads with the same messages, city officials said.

Although known as a supporter of LGBTQ rights during his political career including six years in New York’s state Senate, Adams angered LGBTQ activists earlier this year when he appointed three men who have taken homophobic positions to posts in his administration.

“This is not a community that’s going to be silent,” Adams said when asked about the hires Monday. “If they see something they don’t like, they’ll let you know.”

He added, “We can work through anything but we will never go to the days where we will publicly demonize a group, and that’s what’s happening now. And so they voiced their concern about the hires that we made and we’re going to continue to move forward.”

New York state has seen more migration to Florida than from Florida in recent years. In the last three years of the 2010s, more than 60,000 New Yorkers moved to Florida each year on average. By contrast, during the same period, fewer than 24,000 Floridians on average annually moved to New York state, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

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