Equality Florida announces Parenting with Pride effort to advocate for LGBTQ families

Parents from advocacy groups came together to fight 'misinformation and fear' in Florida's classrooms.

Equality Florida is forming a new parental rights organization to advocate for families with LGBTQ members.

Organizers say “Parenting with Pride” already has more than 1,000 families from Pensacola to Key West. A coalition of activists focused on youth issues spoke at an Orlando press conference about the challenges Florida parents face after several bills targeting LGBTQ issues became law in the past two years.

“One thing about LGBTQ-plus families is that there’s no accidents,” said Tatiana Quiroga, Executive Director for Orlando Come Out With Pride. “We have absolutely no privilege of having any loops or accidents in building our families.”

She noted challenges already faced by LGBTQ parents. When Quiroga’s wife had a baby after the couple underwent fertility issues for years, Quiroga still needed to go through an adoption process to become the child’s legal parent.

But activists said problems have worsened significantly in the last two years. In 2022, the Republican supermajority in the Florida Legislature passed a controversial statute derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The measure initially barred any classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender through third grade, but the ban has since been extended by the Board of Education through high school.

In recent years, the state also saw new laws signed separating public bathrooms based on gender assigned at birth, prohibiting trans girls from girls sports in school, and barring gender-related health care treatments for minors while limiting coverage even for adults.

“Trans and non-binary students and teachers are under attack in many other ways — banned from playing sports, having access to restrooms, usage of names and pronouns, and what is possibly the most damaging of all: misinformation and fear,” said Heather Wilkie, Executive Director of Zebra Youth.

Standing in front of the Orange County School Board, activists focused on school issues, including allowing challenges on books deemed controversial or in violation of the state’s curriculum restrictions. That has resulted in books like “And Tango Makes Three,” a children’s book about male penguins raising a chick, and “Gender Queer,” a graphic novel about a teenager who identifies as non-binary being pulled from school libraries.

Jen Cousins, co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, said her own LGBTQ children have been denied access to materials that make them feel accepted.

“My eighth grader is non-binary and incredibly proud,” said Cousins, a plaintiff in a legal challenge to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“They’ve been watching the new series of ‘Good Omens’ on repeat and have been so delighted that the character currently is gender fluid just like that. Representation matters. So imagine how hard it is to be almost 14, comfortable in who you are, but the state you live in is passing laws saying that your existence is not real.”

Several activists invoked the group Moms For Liberty, a conservative parental rights group founded in Florida but gaining national influence. Andrea Montanez, Hope CommUnity Center’s LGBTQ immigration coordinator, called the organization “bullies” for promoting an agenda she said is counter to the well-being of LGBTQ children.

The Parenting with Pride organization appears a direct response to growing influence of such conservative parent groups. Notably, Equality Florida drew in organizations like the local Seminole County PTA to show a level of mainstream advocacy for students.

Shelly Pedraza, a mother and Seminole County PTA President, characterized book bans and restrictions on instruction as a kind of revisionist history, comparing it to incomplete lessons about the New World in the past that omitted the nastier aspects of colonization.

Groups also saw intersectionality with concerns about the censoring of Black History and critical race theory in schools. Cassandra Brown, Executive Director of All About the Ballots, said it was important that old fissures between racial minorities and LGBTQ activists must be eliminated so all marginalized groups advocate together.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    August 15, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    Rhonda’s certainly having conniptions, assuming he heard about this wherever he might be today, foolishly introducing himself to GOP Primary voters.

    The result is always the same: Voters meet Rhonda. Voters quickly realize not to vote for Rhonda. But he just keeps doing it…. Why?

  • rbruce

    August 15, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    Why is this news. There are about 8.2 million families in Florida.
    Parenting with Pride as 1000 (0.012%). There is no “Don’t Say Gay” bill. To say so, means one is either ignorant or a liar. There is no gender assignment at birth. There are only two choices. No matter how hard one tries to change it by unnecessary drugs or physical mutilation, there will only be male and female. Acceptance of reality will end much of the anguish of youth.

  • Homosexuals United

    August 16, 2023 at 1:10 am

    The fact that this support group has formed to protect homosexuals tells it all.

    Thank God for the American Constitution!

Comments are closed.


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