Gay hiking

NYC hits back at Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill with billboard counterattack

New York Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday that the “City of Stonewall” will sponsor ads targeting a Florida law banning schools from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move is a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community and comes after Adams drew growing criticism by hiring three pastors with histories of homophobic statements to work in his administration. He also takes aim at a recent ad campaign launched by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis featuring New Yorkers who have moved to Florida.

“This political drama of trying to demonize a particular group or community is unacceptable. And we’re going to show our support loud and clear and say to those who live in Florida, “Look, we want you here in New York. We want you here in New York, Adams said at a press conference Monday, alongside advocates and members of the City Council’s LGBTQ Caucus.

Five unique billboards – funded by donations and launched in partnership with communications, advertising and branding firms including WPP Company, VMLY&R, GroupM, BCW Global and H+K Strategies – are set to make their debut Monday and continue for the next eight weeks in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

“People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ isn’t one of them,” read one of the illustrations.

“Strong. Proud. Always empowered,” says another.

LGBTQ advocates welcomed the mayor’s announcement, but urged city hall to take additional steps to promote inclusion.

New York City

“No matter what you do, Mr. Mayor, I’m going to suggest more,” Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, said at Monday’s press conference. “We have a lot of work to do. I know what it was like growing up and being isolated and disrespected and in fear of telling anyone I was gay, and that still exists in our schools.

Roskoff called on schools to hang advertisements during Gay Pride month in June, put up banners in front of school buildings to celebrate Pride month, hold educational assemblies on the history of Pride and integrate LGBTQ issues in the program.

Previously, in response to the controversial hires, Roskoff and LGBTQ leaders had asked Adams to create an office of LGBTQ affairs — which Adams has yet to do and declined to answer when asked for an update. on the possible formation of the office at Monday’s press conference.

“Of course we are very disappointed and outraged by the nominations, but we have decided to move on and work with the mayor who we believe made a big mistake in making these nominations, but there is a lot we can do. things together,” Roskoff said Monday. , while noting “the mayor’s story on behalf of the LGBTQ community.” (Adams gave an impassioned speech in support of gay marriage while serving as a state senator in 2009).

Florida legislation, titled “Parental Rights in Education” and signed into law by DeSantis on March 28, prohibits teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through third grade. City Hall is just the latest entity to take DeSantis to task over the bill, which has drawn swift and far-reaching criticism, including from one of Florida’s key economic drivers: The Walt Disney Company. For conservatives, the “anti-awakening” decision helps raise the national profile of Trump’s sweetheart, as DeSantis is seen as a potential candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2024.

Adams, too, was catapulted into the national spotlight during his short tenure, not least for his approach to criminal justice and policing which is seen as a way to appeal to moderates who have been appalled by the progressive movement and its so-called anti-police rhetoric.

Adams’ Monday announcement follows a statement released last week criticizing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill when it was endorsed by DeSantis.

“The extremist culture war targeting our LGBTQ+ community is hateful and harmful. Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is the latest shameful measure,” he said. “To the families who live in fear of this state-sponsored discrimination: you are welcome in New York. Our arms and hearts are open wide, embracing every child of every identity. Still.”