For Immediate Release | March 28, 2022
Contact: Jim Hile – Director of Digital Engagement and Communications
Faith-based Education Equity Organization Responds to Governor DeSantis’ signing of Legislative Child Abuse
Washington, D.C. – Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill stripping protection from LGBTQ+ students and making any inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in curriculum, discussions, or other engagement impossible. Zakiya Jackson, president of The Expectations Project, a D.C.-based nonprofit mobilizing people of faith to demand excellent public schools for children who are Black, Brown, in poverty or otherwise marginalized, issued the following statement:
“I am distraught by the legislative news out of Florida, targeting LGBTQ+ youth by bringing them harm through revoking their rights to be children that are protected and cared for by the adults in their lives at school. I implore people of faith everywhere to recognize that LGBTQ+ children are also Black children, Brown children, children in poverty and children that are pushed to the margins in a variety of ways. We cannot afford to be dismissive simply because white, affluent and non-inclusive narratives are often the face of LGBTQ+ stories. Removing the stories, histories, and truth about the LGBTQ+ community and their contributions to society, while making it impossible for children to safely explore, learn and ask questions about themselves and their identities and their pupils is cruel. From the criminalization of Black and Brown students, to these attacks on transgender children and other LGBTQ+ children, politicians in this country are revealing how little they care about our most vulnerable population. Faith communities are able to understand that children are a treasure – both our present and future. As such treasures, we must allow them to be children at school. Especially in public schools and/or schools that receive federal funding. This Florida bill and other bills like them create violent environments for our children where they should instead have nourishing safe ones. According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, “42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth” and “94% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.” This bill puts these children at further risk of isolation, mental health crisis, and suicidality. This bill amounts to child abuse in some of the cruelest forms, and spiritual and psychological violence of the highest degree. The Senate must act now to pass the Equality Act, which would overhaul LGBTQ+ civil rights protections, and the Biden-Harris Administration must do all in its power to protect our increasingly vulnerable children. Everyday Americans must leverage their power and their voice to stop state and local governments from continuing to punish our children for simply existing.”
In January 2022, The Expectations Project launched the Let a Child Be a Child campaign to bring attention to how Black students and other students of color are policed and criminalized in schools, and how local communities can advocate for better support systems and staff to create nourishing environments for children to learn, which includes LGBTQ+ students.
The Expectations Project mobilizes people of faith to act nationally and locally to eliminate education inequity.