NewsLocal NewsCollier County


Naples Pride organizes march to protest anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and laws

Naples Pride
Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-31 19:46:13-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Naples Pride organized a march through downtown Naples on Friday night to protest current legislation and laws they say are targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

One of those, they say, is the law critics refer to as "Don't Say Gay." The bill limits what can be taught in classrooms.

"Really it's overly vague, it's overly general and it has this false narrative of protecting children," said Callhan Soldavini, a board member for Naples Pride.

That's how Soldavini describes the potential expansion of the Parental Rights Education law. Currently, kindergarten to third grade children cannot learn about sexual orientation or gender identity at school.

Gov. DeSantis signed the law back in 2022.

"We're going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum," the governor said back in 2022.

Republicans have said the measure is reasonable, and parents should be in charge of what kids are exposed to, not teachers.

Democrats, such as Florida's first openly gay lawmaker, Sen. Shevrin Jones, says the legislation having a different motive.

"Those who think you can legislate gay people away, I'm sorry, you cannot," he previously said.

Opponents like Soldavini says it limits freedom of speech and curiosity.

"It should be looked at through an academic lens and if a child is interested in learning more about that, then they need to be able to have the resources to do that," she explained.

It's this and other legislation the LGBTQ+ community feels targets them prompting the Naples Pride march through downtown Naples.

"A lot of misconceptions around the LGBTQ community right now boil down to misinformation," Soldavini said.

Opponents say comments like those from Naples councilman Terry Hutchison, talking about drag shows during a February 2023 meeting shows misinformation on full display.

"This is exposing sexually explicit activity to children. I'm not okay with that," he said back in February.

The Department of Education and the Journal of Pediatrics have found no connection between sexual orientation and child sexual abuse.

It's one of many reasons why Soldavini says it's important to celebrate LGBTQ+ youth and fight bills in Tallahassee.

"It prevents freedom of speech in the classroom for topics that are really are already here and aren't going anywhere," Soldavini said.