Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s).
Weston Moran (COM ‘25) is a second year Public Relations student in the College of Communication, where he serves as Student Body President.
“It’ll be fun!” My friends urged me to join them on their upcoming trip to Florida’s Key West. Financially, it didn’t make sense. More importantly, however, as a gay man, I’m not welcome there. “I refuse to travel to Florida,” I told them. “I just won’t do it.”
There is always a bit of confusion when I explain to people I refuse to travel to Florida. This personal boycott began last year when Florida became increasingly homophobic in their legislation.
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, passed by both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate, took effect July 1, 2022. Known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the legislation is blatantly hateful and exclusionary towards LGBTQIA+ individuals and families in Florida.
The bill, officially titled Bill CS/CS/HB 1557 by the Florida legislature, bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida’s primary schools and restricts conversations around these topics in other grades.
According to the Florida Senate website, the bill aims to “reinforce [the] fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing and control of their children.”
The bill does so by explicitly banning conversations around sexual orientation in Section 8.3: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3,” calling these topics “not developmentally appropriate.”
More recently, as of April 2023, the Florida Board of Education has expanded these “Don’t Say Gay” restrictions through Grade 12.
According to the amendment, “for Grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend.”
Basically, the bill is trying to ban any and all conversations surrounding LGBTQIA+ topics in schools. Newsflash, Florida: That’s impossible.
As the LGBTQIA+ community becomes more accepted around the United States, the number of out-of-the-closet LGBTQIA+ people in the U.S. is increasing. According to a study conducted by the University of California Los Angeles Williams Institute, Florida had a total LGBTQ population (age 13+) of 886,000 in 2020. 24% of these people are currently raising children, according to the Williams Institute.
Just because Florida children won’t hear the word “gay” from their teachers doesn’t mean they aren’t seeing members of the LGBTQIA+ community every day in their families, at the park, the grocery store or as they meet new friends and their two same-sex parents.
But the attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community have continued since last year. Just earlier this month, the Florida senate advanced Bill 254.
The Human Rights Campaign dubbed Bill 254 “an extreme, unprecedented attack on transgender people, their health care, and the families and health care providers who care for them. The bill is a gender-affirming care ban that would also strip parental rights from parents who support their transgender children.”
Now, Equality Florida, a “civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community,” has issued a travel advisory warning for Florida to LGBTIA+ people. Now, not only do I not want to go to Florida, but I shouldn’t. And neither should you.
As Bostonians, we need to show Floridian politicians that dangerous legislation like that passed in Florida in recent months has no place in the United States. And to do this, I urge you all to boycott the Florida economy in any way possible. Yes, that means not traveling there.
As Massachusetts’ school breaks approach, and with summer just around the corner, I urge you to steer clear of vacationing in the Sunshine State.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a supporter of this homophobic legislation, prides himself on Florida’s tourism numbers. In a February 2022 Press Release, the Florida government commended DeSantis’ “leadership” in contributing to their “highest level” of domestic visitors in state history.
Let’s show DeSantis and the Florida legislature that without us, they lose a huge portion of their revenue. According to the state’s “official tourism marketing corporation,” VISIT FLORIDA, “Florida visitors contributed $101.9 billion to Florida’s economy.”
If we non-Floridians boycott traveling to Florida in response to their increasingly anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, we can bring to their attention that this bill is not only outdated and homophobic, but stupid.
Sure, anti-LGBTQIA+ Floridians may call upon the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment, especially the Establishment and Free Expression Clauses relating to freedom of religion. They may state that being LGBTQ and/or talking about it goes against their religion.
And to that, I too call upon the religion clauses as a defense. Ever heard of separation of church and state? I don’t care if you’re religious, but your religious beliefs can’t sneak their way into Florida’s public, governmental policy.
Besides religion, any argument against being LGBTQIA+ is simply based on ignorance. Why would we teach our children ignorance? Homeschool your children if you have an issue, bigot.
So, next time you plan a vacation, avoid Florida. Go somewhere else. Because until Florida and DeSantis agree to “say gay,” they shouldn’t see a dime of our money.