Second Trump judge rejects Don’t Say Gay lawsuit
Author: Alex Bollinger
Another federal judge appointed by Donald Trump has rejected a challenge to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law.
The law, passed last year, bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in Kindergarten through third grade and restricts such discussions in older grades. The law has already been used to curtail discussions about LGBTQ+ people and leave students without help if they’re being bullied because of their identities. A recent survey found that over half of LGBTQ+ parents in Florida are considering leaving the state.
The law sparked several lawsuits from LGBTQ+ parents and students, and federal District Judge Allen Winsor, a Trump appointee, just rejected one of them. Another lawsuit was rejected by a different Trump-appointed judge this past October.
“Plaintiffs have shown a strident disagreement with the new law, and they have alleged facts to show its very existence causes them deep hurt and disappointment,” the judge wrote in his decision. “But to invoke a federal court’s jurisdiction, they must allege more. Their failure to do so requires dismissal.”
The lawsuit said that LGBTQ+ students were being “denied equal educational opportunities” and that the law created “a discriminatory educational environment that treats LGBTQ people and issues as something to be shunned and avoided, on pain of discipline and liability.”
The complaint cited some of the immediate fallout from the law going into effect, like a school district rejecting its LGBTQ+ History Month resolution, one of the plaintiffs saying they couldn’t find a teacher willing to sponsor a GSA at their school, and LGBTQ+ books getting removed from Broward County schools.
But Winsor said that that wasn’t enough harm to establish standing for the plaintiffs. He said that the student couldn’t prove that the teachers won’t sponsor the GSA because of the Don’t Say Gay law and that the resolution was the decision of the school board.
Winsor’s nomination was opposed by civil rights organizations in part because of his long history of working on cases to restrict the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. He worked on several cases defending Florida’s ban on marriage equality, arguing in one that the state should be allowed to ban same-sex couples from getting married because of “a clear and essential connection between [heterosexual] marriage and responsible procreation and childrearing.”
A judge at the time called his arguments “an obvious pretext for discrimination” and overturned Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. Winsor was appointed to replace that judge.
In October, Judge Wendy Berger dismissed a similar lawsuit. In that case, several plaintiffs said that the bill will lead to increased bullying since it sends the message that being LGBTQ+ is shameful and should not be tolerated.
Berger acknowledged some of the plaintiff’s bullying worries but said that “it is simply a fact of life that many middle school students will face the criticism and harsh judgment of their peers.”
“Indeed, middle school children bully and belittle their classmates for a whole host of reasons,” Berger continued, “all of which are unacceptable, and many of which have nothing to do with a classmate’s gender identity.”
Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Alex Bollinger