Where Anita Bryant “fought” for children specifically, Ron DeSantis has taken it a step further. He’s using fully grown college students to advance his anti-LGBTQ agenda.
Passed in May, Florida Senate Bill 266 bans all university funding to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” programs. The legislation is still too new to have been fully enacted. However, it’s a near certainty that when it is, women’s, intercultural, and interfaith centers on college campuses statewide will close.
So will LGBTQ centers.
Senior Allison Bradish said there is a “doom and gloom” hanging over LGBTQ students at the University of North Florida since the passage of SB 266. UNF is home to a particularly active LGBTQ center. It offers counseling and diversity training in addition to free hygiene, clothing, and food items to all students regardless of preference.
But particularly for LGBT students, “it’s the one place they can go to meet another queer person who understands them,” Bradish said. “It’s the safe place that LGBTQ students need.”
Prior to SB 266, Campus Pride, a nonprofit who profiles colleges nationwide for compatibility with LGBT students, named UNF one of its top schools for LGBT students in the south. University of Miami and the University of South Florida made the list, too.
But that was then.
“It’s a big loss for everyone,” Director of UNF’s LGBTQ Center, Manny Velasquez-Paredes said of the statewide effects of SB 266. “But especially for students. They’re learning how to be adults, trying to find themselves … How are they supposed to be 100% who they are when the university refuses to offer the resources they need to do it?”