Florida could pass ban on Pride and Black Lives Matter flags in public schools

The ban prevents Pride and Black Lives Matter flags in schools and state buildings. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Lawmakers in Florida, USA, have moved forward with a new bill which could ban Pride flags and Black Lives Matter symbols which depict the movement in schools and state buildings. 

On 17 January, Republicans in the state advanced the bill, which would prohibit government employees and teachers from displaying these flags at public schools, colleges and universities, as well as government buildings.

It also prevents the use of other flags from the LGBTQ+ community, including the trans, intersex, and nonbinary flags. 

The bill states: “A governmental entity may not erect or display a flag that represents a political viewpoint, including, but not limited to, a politically partisan, racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint. The governmental entity must remain neutral when representing political viewpoints in displaying or erecting a flag.”

Students, however, would not be included in the ban.

Republican State Representative David Borrero co-sponsored the House Bill 901, which could take effect as early as 1 July. The bill must first be approved by the Florida House’s State Affairs Committee, as per the Tampa Bay Times. If it secures approval, it would then go to the full chamber for a vote.

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Borrero rejected backlash that the legislation was homophobic and hateful, telling the Associated Press the bill aims to protect children from “radicalisation”. 

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

The advanced ban is yet another attack on the LGBTQ+ community in the US, which has also faced bans on gender-affirming care for young trans and nonbinary people in other states.

“Are we in Russia? Are we in Cuba? That’s authoritarianism. That’s fascism at its best,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones told the outlet. “How I was raised, the rainbow meant hope. … I can promise you it wasn’t [the Pride flag] that made me gay.”

State Representative Dotie Joseph, a Democrat from Miami Beach, said that the bill “validates hate” in the community.

“The problem with this bill is, in addition to the constitutional issues, that it fosters the same kind of intolerance that breeds the violence that makes our communities unsafe,” Joseph told the Tampa Bay Times. “And how it does that is by, instead of fostering tolerance, we focus on intolerance for culture wars.”

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