Equality Florida Denounces DeSantis Inspired Anti-LGBTQ Extremists’ Rally in Fort Lauderdale

Equality Florida Denounces DeSantis Inspired Anti-LGBTQ Extremists’ Rally in Fort Lauderdale

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL -- Today anti-LGBTQ extremist groups gathered in the heart of Fort Lauderdale to spread misinformation and hate speech about Florida’s LGBTQ students and families. For months extremist groups like Moms for Liberty have barraged elected leaders in Florida with wildly inaccurate, hateful, and dangerous rhetoric about LGBTQ Floridians. Promotional materials for the event called it a rally against “child grooming” and “radicalized sexual curriculum” and featured parents protecting a child from a bleeding rainbow.

In response, high school students have organized to push back on the DeSantis-led attacks targeting students, parents, and teachers. High School student Jack Petocz who led the statewide “Don’t Say Gay” student walkout and South Florida-based LGBTQ youth organization PRISM called for a peaceful counterprotest of today’s hate rally by Moms For Liberty.

From its founding Moms For Liberty has been a close partner to Governor Ron DeSantis, earlier this year awarding him a “Sword of Liberty” award and partnering with his political machine to attack school board candidates in the most recent election. It was no surprise to see activists screaming anti-LGBTQ slurs at youth counter-protestors while also waving pro-Desantis flags and branding.

“Governor Ron DeSantis' dangerous anti-LGBTQ politics and rhetoric have created an anti-LGBTQ hysteria we haven’t seen since the days of Anita Bryant and her “Save Our Children” campaign,” said Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders. “Governor DeSantis’ refusal to denounce Neo-Nazi, Proud Boys, and other extremists have emboldened them. During today’s protest, an organizer of the hate rally aggressively taunted LGBTQ high school students calling out, ‘Where’s Jack!?’ in an effort to intimidate high school student Jack Petocz, an organizer of the youth-led counter protest. We are seeing a dangerous escalation in how these extremist groups have menaced their opponents including following families of trans kids home from school board meetings. Governor DeSantis and his political advisors have spent the last year demonizing Florida’s LGBTQ community, attacking parents, and denying them the right to get care for their children. He has made schools less safe and now that toxic rhetoric has spilled into the streets.”

Youth organizers were joined by openly gay elected officials, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and State Senator Shevrin Jones while anti-LGBTQ activists were joined by newly elected Broward County School Board member Brenda Fam.

Equality Florida applauds the brave leadership of LGBTQ youth leaders who stood up to the bullying and hatred of radicalized adults. Leaders like Jack Petocz, Gen Z for Change, Maxx Fenning, and the youth leaders of PRISM are leading the fight for a Florida where every student is protected and every family is respected.


Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.




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