Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was named as a defendant in a lawsuit challenging the state's "Don't Say Gay" law. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo
March 31 (UPI) -- A group of civil rights organizations on Thursday sued Florida over its controversial "Don't Say Gay" law, calling it "cruel" and a "grave abuse of power."
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court's Northern District of Florida by several groups and individuals, including Equality Florida and Family Equality. Among the defendants listed in suit are Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida State Board of Education and a number of county school boards.
"This effort to control young minds through state censorship -- and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality -- is a grave abuse of power," the lawsuit reads.
"The state of Florida has no right to declare them outcasts, or to treat their allies as outlaws, by punishing schools where someone dares to affirm their identity and dignity."
DeSantis signed the legislation, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, into law Monday, restricting what can be taught in classrooms on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The new law prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity and also bars educators from discouraging or prohibiting "parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student's mental, emotional, or physical well-being."
Critics of the law say it prevents students who identify as LGBTQ from speaking about their identity and could potentially harm them as one provision in the law requires parents to be notified.
DeSantis, though, says the law allows parents to shield their children from learning about sexual orientation or gender identity, which he described as "clearly inappropriate."
The lawsuit says the law violates the First and 14th Amendments of the Constitution as well as Title IX, which protects against discrimination based on sex.