Billboards popping up in some of Florida’s largest cities are encouraging passersby to “say gay.”
The massive roadside messages are a response to the state’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Monday. The measure prohibits “classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity” in “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
The billboards — now on display in Orlando, Tallahassee and Jacksonville — were spearheaded by the Southern Progress Political Action Committee, which, according to its website, seeks to “expose the extremist agenda of Republican politicians.”
“It’s OK to say gay. It’s more than OK. It’s encouraged,” Ally Sammarco, a volunteer for the PAC, told NBC affiliate WESH of Winter Park. “We want to make it very clear that it’s OK to talk about who you are and where you come from, and no one can stop you from doing that.”
Sammarco said the next billboard will go up in Miami this week.
“A bill like this looks maybe innocent in nature, but it’s not,” Sammarco added. “It’s going to have very deadly consequences for kids, especially young kids of the LGBTQ community.”
Supporters of the Parental Rights in Education bill, however, say it’s about protecting Florida’s students and giving parents a say in their children’s education. During his signing ceremony on Monday, DeSantis said the measure will ensure “that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.”
The law goes into effect July 1.
Jay Valle, an NBCU Academy embed, writes and produces digital content for NBC Out.