UNITED STATES NEWS

Florida GOP lawmakers seek to ban rainbow flags in schools, saying they’re bad for students

Jan 17, 2024, 3:53 PM

Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center at Equality Park, poses with a Progress Pride flag in his offic...

Robert Boo, CEO of the Pride Center at Equality Park, poses with a Progress Pride flag in his office at the community center supporting the local LGBTQ+ community and their allies, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in Wilton Manors, Fla. A bill Republican lawmakers are seeking in Florida would ban teachers from wearing a rainbow flag lapel pin for even a day, but allow them to hang a full-size North Korean or Iranian flag for as long as they want. A House committee approved the bill on a 9-5 vote Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A bill advanced by Florida Republicans on Wednesday would ban teachers and other government employees from displaying a rainbow flag — even wearing one as a lapel pin for a day — but they could hang the full-size flag of any “recognized nation” as long as they want, according to the bill’s sponsor.

Flag displays that depict a “racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint” would be banned from any state or local government building, including public schools and universities, under the bill authored by GOP Rep. David Borrero.

Opponents say the bill is inspired by hate. Borrero said it protects children and it would ban even lapel pins representing the flags of the LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter movements.

“Public classrooms should not be the place where our kids go to be radicalized and evangelized into accepting these partisan, radical ideologies,” Borrero said. “It’s wholly inappropriate to be putting those types of flags in front of public school students and in government buildings.”

Asked about other flags, Borrero said those of sovereign states recognized by the U.S., such as Israel, could be displayed in a classroom. Because the U.S. doesn’t recognize Palestine as a nation, this would rule out the Palestinian flag.

The ban wouldn’t apply to students, or to government employees when they’re not at work or in public buildings, Borrero said. But it would extend to lawmakers’ offices, and at least some Democrats said they’ll break the law if the bill is ever signed by DeSantis.

“Are we in Russia? Are we in Cuba? That’s authoritarianism. That’s fascism at it’s best,” said Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black and gay and has a “Pride at the Capitol” poster with rainbow colors in his public lobby, along with other pride symbols.

“How I was raised, the rainbow meant hope. … I can promise you it wasn’t that that made me gay,” Jones added. “I’m not taking a damn thing down. I want everybody to see it.”

Florida lawmakers have already passed several anti-LGBTQ+ laws while Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis runs for president. DeSantis has signed bans against teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. He’s banned transgender health care for minors and created new hurdles for transgender adults, and made it easier for parents to get books with LGBTQ+ themes removed from schools.

This bill advanced with a party-line 9-5 vote by the House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee faces an uncertain path, even with Republican supermajorities in the Legislature. It has one more House committee stop before being considered by the full chamber. A companion Senate bill has been referred to three committees and hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing.

DeSantis’ office didn’t respond to an email asking if he supports the legislation.

Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner, who is Black and lesbian, spoke with frustration that anti-LGBTQ+ bills keep coming up in the Florida Legislature, ignoring more pressing needs such as access to affordable housing and property insurance.

“Once again we’re focusing on things nobody has asked us to focus on,” said Rayner, sitting in her office near a stack of “Protect LGBTQ+ Students” flyers printed over rainbow colors. “I have a Black Voters Matter sign outside of my office. It will remain outside my office regardless of what bill they pass because there’s a thing called the First Amendment.”

Borrero’s bill would also apply to local governments such as the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Wilton Manors, a gay-friendly town of 11,000 where Pride flags fly almost everywhere, including City Hall during Pride Month. A bridge leading into town is framed by rainbow-colored barriers and a Pride flag and a trans pride flag fly year-round above a small park across the street from City Hall.

Robert Boo, CEO of the town’s Pride Center, said DeSantis and the bill’s backers hope to “erase the LGBTQ community” and throw “red meat” to their political supporters while ignoring complicated issues plaguing the state.

“Wilton Manors is the second-gayest city in the country. It is important for Wilton Manors to be able to raise the flags that represent the community’s members,” Boo said. “This may not pertain to middle Florida and they may not want to do that, but I think municipalities should have the ability and freedom to put up the flags that best represent their constituents.”

__

Associated Press writer Terry Spencer in Wilton Manors contributed to this report.

United States News

A calendar shows the month of February, including leap day, Feb. 29, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in S...

Associated Press

Have a look at the whos, whats and whens of leap year through time

NEW YORK (AP) — Leap year. It’s a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why? Have a look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four year phenom that adds a 29th day to February. BY THE NUMBERS The […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim greets supporters outside Central High School on the day of the r...

Associated Press

Fatigue and frustration as final do-over mayoral election looms in Connecticut’s largest city

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — It’s been nearly four months since a judge tossed out the results of a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticut’s largest city due to allegations of ballot stuffing, sending voters repeatedly back to the polls and thrusting Bridgeport into an unflattering national spotlight. Many frustrated local voters say they just want it […]

6 hours ago

Homes are seen on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the southwest Portland, Ore., suburb of Beaverton. Th...

Associated Press

A housing shortage is testing Oregon’s pioneering land use law. Lawmakers are poised to tweak it

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A severe lack of affordable housing has prompted Oregon lawmakers to consider chipping away at a 1970s law that made the state a national leader in leveraging land use policy to prevent suburban sprawl and conserve nature and agriculture. The so-called urban growth boundary, a sacred cow of Oregon’s liberal politics, […]

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

10 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called South Carolina for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary as soon as polls closed on Saturday. The race call was based on a comprehensive survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters that showed him defeating Nikki Haley by wide margins in her home state. Declaring a winner as […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Florida GOP lawmakers seek to ban rainbow flags in schools, saying they’re bad for students