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Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill amendment would out LGBTQ+ kids to their parents

“Knowingly subjecting children to abuse, abandonment, and neglect by forcing them to come out to their parents is cruel, dangerous”

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An amendment filed this past Friday to the legislation that would bar discussions and course materials in Florida’s public schools, colloquially referred to as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, (HB 1557), would also require school personnel to inform a parent of their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The author of the amendment, Republican Rep. Joe Harding, (R-Williston), the author and chief sponsor of HB 1557 also wrote and introduced the amendment.

The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives is set to pass the controversial measure that has received the backing of Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday.  Democrats and advocacy groups have launched a full-scale campaign to derail the bill’s passage.

In an email to the Blade, Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida said: “We wish every home was an accepting one and that every young person was affirmed and celebrated by their families. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for LGBTQ youth. They already make up 40% of the homeless youth population because they face higher rates of family rejection and abuse simply for being who they are. Knowingly subjecting children to abuse, abandonment, and neglect by forcing them to come out to their parents before they’re ready is cruel, dangerous, and underscores that this bill has no regard for the well-being of Florida’s youth”

Popular Information’s investigative reporter Judd Legum noted on Twitter that the bill’s sponsor, Harding, was retweeting a hardline national conservative group, ‘Mom’s For Liberty’ which is based in Florida, and has been actively campaigning in school systems across the U.S. to remove LGBTQ+ books and curriculum.

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Video to prevent LGBTQ+ bullying taken down in Florida schools

“The materials you referenced have been removed for legal review to ensure the content complies with recent state legislation”

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In another circumstance of Florida’s newly minted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law’s negative impact, a 12-min training video aimed at teaching middle and high school students how to prevent bullying and support their LGBTQ+ peers in Duval County Public Schools has been removed from student access.

Jacksonville Today journalist Claire Heddles reported Sunday that besides the video, the district is planning to dramatically reduce a LGBTQ+ support guide.

The video is now inaccessible and, in response to questions from Jacksonville Today, Duval Schools District spokesperson Tracy Pierce said, “The materials you referenced have been removed for legal review to ensure the content complies with recent state legislation.”

A Gay Straight Alliance faculty sponsor, Scott Sowell, said that now-removed video, specifically created for students, was developed using funds from a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.

“The video was co-written by some students, and so it had very student-appropriate and student-specific language that was, you know, teenagers talking to other teenagers,” Sowell told Jacksonville Today. “It’s one critical resource that is now no longer available to teachers to help support students.”

In addition to the disappearing training materials, Duval School Board members are also set to vote Monday on a policy change requiring schools to send emails to parents if there’s a change in student services, which would include if students want to change their name or pronouns in unofficial school records, like ID cards and yearbooks, according to proposed district guidance. According to the draft policy, schools would send the email to parents, unless there’s a risk of “abuse, abandonment or neglect.”

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Florida

CDC: Seven dead in Fla. meningococcal disease outbreak

MSM urged to get vaccinated

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CDC headquarters in Atlanta (Photo courtesy of the U.S. government)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday that the agency is continuing its collaboration with the Florida Department of Health to investigate one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.

At least 24 cases and seven deaths among gay and bisexual men have been reported so far a CDC spokesperson noted.

In response to this outbreak, CDC is recommending gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men get a meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if they are traveling to Florida. CDC is also emphasizing the importance of routine vaccination for people with HIV.  

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.” 

People can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center or local health department. Insurance providers should pay for meningococcal vaccination for those whom it is recommended for during an outbreak. In Florida, anyone can get a MenACWY vaccine at no cost at any county health department during the outbreak.  

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of meningococcal disease. Symptoms can appear suddenly and include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash. Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness, but typically worsen very quickly. People spread meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria.   

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly and includes infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease. 

More information about the outbreak and vaccine is available at Meningococcal Disease in Florida, 2022 | CDC.  

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Canadian teen arrested for threatening mass shooting at Fla. Pride event

West Palm Beach police say suspect has showed no remorse

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Courtesy of the RCMP

A 17-year-old male adolescent was arrested by Canadian law enforcement after he threatened to commit a mass shooting at a Pride event in West Palm Beach, Fla.

A report was received on Sunday by the Miami Police Department that a video was online posted to the video chat platform Omegle where the teenaged suspect was seen waving a gun in the video, making anti-LGBTQ comments, and he additionally claimed to be living in Palm Beach County, where he said he was going to commit the mass shooting that day at the Pride on the Block 2022 event.

After a joint investigation by Miami Police Department, which had notified the West Palm Beach Police Department; the assistance of the FBI, New York Police Department, Toronto Police Service and Peel Regional Police was enlisted to locate and arrest the suspect.

A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acknowledged that the suspect was arrested Monday and that the weapon seen in the video was recovered. He was charged with threatening to commit a mass shooting and charges including written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. Charges are also pending in Florida.

ABC News affiliate WPBF reported that West Palm Beach Police Department Deputy Chief Rick Morris said during the press conference that the suspect knew the area well and most likely had other areas in mind for other attacks, but was not in West Palm Beach at the time of the arrest.

“People were very scared. The Pulse nightclub shooting is still very much in people’s minds especially in our gay community, which is tragic. We want the LGBTQ community to know we stand behind them,” Morris said.

In regard to the suspect Morris noted; “I can say through his statement that there’s no remorse.”

West Palm Beach police had uniformed and plainclothes officers along with SWAT team members at the Pride on the Block event on Sunday, which was delayed a day due to severe weather WPBF 25 reported.

“We did ramp (our enforcement) up in addition to the operational plan that we already had in place but I can’t go into the details or the specifics,” said Mike Jachles, public information officer for the West Palm Beach Police Department.

He continued, “These were hate-filled threats targeted at a ‘gay event’ in Palm Beach County and the West Palm Beach Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of our residents, visitors and anyone who comes to our city.”

He is in custody in Canada currently awaiting extradition to Palm Beach County.

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