PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — As Florida's governor stands firm after signing the controversial "Parental Rights In Education" bill into law Monday, so does the LGBTQ+ community in South Florida, which feels singled out and marginalized by the measure.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
The bottom line is that issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are not part of the Florida public school curriculum for kindergarten through third graders.
Opponents said this is a solution looking for a problem. But other parents said they want to make sure their children learning topics they don't feel are appropriate.
"As a parent, it's mildly terrifying, right? These are the most vulnerable people in our community. These are our kids," said Adrienne Percival, who works at the Compass Community Center in Lake Worth Beach, a local organization that supports the gay community.
Percival has a daughter that identifies in that community as well. She calls the bill dangerous.
"If the messaging that you are getting from your school and your family is that who you are isn't OK, that just triggers more self-loathing, more self-harm," Percival said.
This coming off the most successful Pride weekend ever in Palm Beach County.
"We do feel that this is not an issue," said Julie Seaver, the executive director of the Compass Community Center. "Sexual orientation and gender identity is not being taught in the current curriculum in K-3. So I think it's just creating more of a political divide against a marginalized population of LGBT youth. It is definitely targeting and attacking those youth."
"If it's already not part of the instruction and not part of the standards and assessments, then where is the objection in formalizing that it's not going to be part of the instruction or standards?" said a Palm Beach County parent who didn't want to be identified.
That mother said she supports the bill and leaving those conversations out of the youngest classrooms.
"I'm very concerned that too many people associate it with being anti-gay," the parent said. "I don't think it is. I just, looking at the age of the children and that kind of conversation is best held when they are a little more mature."
DeSantis said the bill is needed to prevent inappropriate instruction getting into the classroom.
It bans instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade or in a manner not age appropriate, and gives way for parents to file lawsuits surrounding the issue.
Those at the Compass Community Center said they won't stop making sure every child feels like they belong.
"We just keep moving forward. Nothing stops the rainbow. We are loud and proud and you will not silence us," Percival said.
The School District of Palm Beach County released the following statement to WPTV about the new law:
"The School District of Palm Beach County will follow the direction of the Florida Department of Education as it implements the Parental Bill of Rights in Education measure, while continuing to maintain a safe and welcoming learning environment for our students.
While the law does not take effect until July 1, 2022, the District will undertake a comprehensive curriculum review in advance and remove any books or materials that do not align with the new legislation."