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As GOP bills advance, LGBTQ advocates continue to push back

rainbow flag in front of blue sky
Tim Bieler

During the legislative session lawmakers have taken up GOP bills that limit how pronouns can be used in schools, extend a ban on discussions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and give parents more authority to challenge school library books.

Supporters say the moves are about protecting parental rights. Sen. Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) is behind one of the measures moving through the legislative process.

“The decision on when and if certain topics should be introduced to children belongs to parents who should not have to worry that their students are receiving classroom instruction on topics and materials the parents feel are not age appropriate or appropriate at all," Yarborough said.

But the measures have received pushback from many. Jason DeShazo, is the president of the Rose Dynasty foundation, a mentoring organization for LGBTQ youth.

“Over 70% of the youth that I work with personally across the state suffer from mental illness and mental health issues and are scared of bills like these because it directly targets the LGBTQ+ community and youth especially." DeShazo said.

DeShazo worries limiting discussion on LGBTQ topics creates the impression that LGBTQ kids are unwanted and unseen. But openly gay Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones says the bills won’t make those kids go away.

“LGBTQ people will exist. Your children will have to learn how to coexist with those same individuals. Period. So you can legislate this type of stuff all you want, it’s not going anywhere," Jones said.