Attacks On Internet Freedom Concern LGBTQ Activists

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Republicans are continuing their assault on LGBTQ youth, and this time they’ve got Democrats to join them. The Florida legislature has overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that will disproportionately affect LGBTQ under 21.

First is limiting access to social media. HB 3, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed into law, prohibits children under 14 from creating and using any social media accounts. Children 14-16 may have accounts with parental consent.

The bill passed 109-4 in the House and 30-5 in the Senate.

The law affects LGBTQ youth by creating obstacles to critical, often lifesaving information.

Maxx Fenning, executive director of PRISM, which works with LGBTQ youth in South Florida, says this law could be devastating.

“It's a major component of our outreach, where we reach tens of thousands of teens every month. Bans on social media for youth strip young people of critical resources that they wouldn't be able to find otherwise, especially for young people that don't have supportive families or communities.”

Starting Jan. 1, 2025, it will also require age verification to “prevent minors from accessing sites that are inappropriate for children.” The law is vaguely written, and, like with Don’t Say Gay, it is vague and is enforced through fear and intimidation. Other states have passed a similar measure, and adult sites like Pornhub simply geofence the state and block all access.

The law is likely to face multiple First Amendment challenges in federal courts. “Luckily, we know that this bill is blatantly unconstitutional and expect a strong challenge against it in the courts,” Fenning said.


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