BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Parents in the Families for Safe Schools in Brevard County started the nonprofit to fight for stricter COVID-19 measures in 2020.
Now, some members are packing up and leaving the state, worried about how controversial classroom laws—such as those prohibiting discussions on sexuality, gender and African American studies—will impact their children.
“It doesn’t feel safe to have different ideas and it’s ultimately why we decided we needed to leave,” the group’s former vice president Kimberly Hough said.
She and her family just closed on a home in Georgia.
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“I want you guys to have a good education,” Hough told her children. “I want you to be in a place where people are more accepting of people that don’t look like them or who don’t live like them.”
And she’s not the only one.
The nonprofit, which was created to be a voice for students and families impacted by controversial Florida laws, is disbanding as several members make exit plans.
Former teacher Fred Kilgallin said he’s moving to a city that offers a greater representation of his political beliefs, adding while the group made strides, it was often equally met with hardened conservative rivals, like the Moms for Liberty.
“From the get-go, we were outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered,” Kilgallin said.
Members cite a litany of laws as the reason behind them leaving, including the Parental Rights in Education law, known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, banning sexual identity discussion for children in kindergarten through third grade and the “Stop WOKE” law, which states that a curriculum cannot include concepts based solely on “their race, color, sex, or national origin” or that anyone is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” by virtue of “their race, color, sex, or national origin.”
The mass exodus also comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis argues that an African American studies course “lacks educational value.”
“The state is becoming a place that’s not safe for people who don’t believe the same things are Ron DeSantis really,” said Hough, in reference to the governor’s support of all these controversial laws.
According to data released by the Williams Institute UCLA Law and Clark University, more than half of the 113 LGBTQ+ parents they surveyed have considered moving out of the state and almost a quarter said they feared harassment due to their gender identity.
“We’re creating something that is dangerous in Florida,” Hough said.
Jabari Hosey, the group’s former president, said he’s not moving now, but agrees Florida isn’t the ideal place to raise children, especially because he wants his own to learn Black history.
“With this CRT villain that was created now it’s a way for them to dismember it, attack it, or not even teach it,” Hosey said.
And though the nonprofit is dissolving, Hosey urges parents to keep the momentum going and asks activists in the county to pick up where the group left off.
“I think a lot of folks, even us parents, don’t understand how much power we have,” he said.
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