In March 2022, Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education Act which prohibits public schools from having classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity. Opponents dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and it threatened to throw the mental health of LGBTQ+ students into complete disarray. Research showed that laws like this create feelings of exclusion, instill a sense of shame, and increase the risk for depression, self-harm, and suicide.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is attempting to silence the LGBTQ+ community in Florida. But there is a vocal, active community inside and outside the state that refuses to be silenced. This campaign creates a movement of support by capitalizing on an iconic object associated with Florida and turning it into a symbol of defiance that can be easily replicated and shared across social media channels. Our goal is to encourage people to get loud and speak up in support of the LGBTQ+ youth in Florida. We want to let these students know we hear them and want to hear from them.
CDMP reached out to Live Out Loud, which is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, ages 13 through 18. Their mission is to partner with families, schools, and communities to provide LGBTQ+ youth with resources, role models, and opportunities that help them discover their voice and become leaders of change.
Through this partnership, we wanted to let the students know that while their politicians don’t want to talk about it, there’s a whole community across the country that does. The predominantly digital and social campaign uses a familiar product of Florida – the orange – as a symbol of defiance and revolution. The ads feature members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies looking directly at the viewer with an orange peel in their mouths and the headline, “Florida Can’t Gag Me.” The stark black and white photography coupled with the bright orange wedge in full color is striking and hard to ignore. Volunteers from all around the country are taking part to demonstrate solidarity with students and teachers in Florida, underscoring that while their government doesn’t want to hear from them, there is a whole community that does.
All communications direct viewers to www.gaygagorder.com, a special page on the Live Out Loud website where they can watch stories of triumph, self-worth, and encouragement, and share their own stories. There are also resources for students, parents, and educators, to help guide them through this challenging time.
The results of the campaign: