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Florida Lawmaker's Attack
on Gay Youths Criticized Widely

Homophobic Republican Politician Mistreated Constituents

U.S. Congressmen: 'Strikes a Blow to the Core of Democracy'

Compiled By GayToday

Rep. Robert Wexler: Speaking out from Washington on homophobia in Tallahassee Tallahassee, Florida--After berating and humiliating recently graduated lesbian and gay students that he welcomed into his office Monday, Florida State Representative Allen Trovillion (R-Winter Park) has been criticized by Capitol Hill politicians and by activist groups.

Trovillion had welcomed several Orlando-area high school students to his office. They were taking part in Equality Florida Youth Lobby Day 2001, an event to promote awareness of the discrimination faced by students on campus. The students went to offer their viewpoints on the challenges they faced as young gay men and women in Florida's schools. While there, the lawmaker launched into a shockingly mean-spirited Jeremiad, vituperating against the young constituents.

"I don't understand why the gay population is becoming so vocal," Trovillion said. "You are going to cause the downfall of this country that was built on Christian principles. You're throwing your life away. I'm against discrimination, but I'm opposed to this. God is going to destroy you.”

Hearing of Trovillion's unseemly outburst, U.S. Representative Peter Deutsch (D-Florida) responded:

“Discrimination can not be tolerated at any level of society--especially from our elected officials. An elected official's personal prejudice has no place in a democratic government and is completely unacceptable. Intolerance strikes a blow to the core of democracy. As history has shown us, prejudice knows no boundaries, and it is my sincere hope that these students own sense of judgment and tolerance will strengthen their resolve to combat acts of bias in our society.”

U.S. Representative Robert Wexler (D-Florida) said:

" I am greatly saddened by the intolerant and hurtful remarks of Florida State Representative Allen Trovillion (R-Winter Park) to a group of gay high school students during their recent visit to his office in Tallahassee. Every individual who walks into the office of an elected representative deserves to be treated with basic respect and dignity. Unfortunately, these students were confronted with statements of contempt and homophobia. There is no excuse for such discrimination in America in the year 2001.

"I applaud these young people for their courage in traveling to their state's Capital to discuss issues that are sensitive and deeply personal. I hope that this experience does not discourage them from doing so again in the future."

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:

'God will Destroy You!' Republican Politico Tells Gay Youths

ACLU Sues Rural California School for Anti-Gay Climate

Teen Gets Anti-Gay Slur Carved into Stomach

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Rep. Wexler

Rep. Deutsch

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The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement:

“The lawmaker's behavior illustrates why the state legislature should pass the Florida Dignity for All Students Act, which would extend Florida's anti-discrimination laws in schools to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”

HRC's Field Director, Seth Kilbourn, noted:

"These young men and women went in for a lesson in civics and got a lesson in incivility…When students can't feel safe in the state house, how can we expect them to feel safe in the schools? Good people can find a way to disagree without having to resort to threats and name-calling. We urge Trovillion to apologize for his remarks because no student should feel threatened or intimidated by their representative."

"Representative Trovillion has disgraced and embarrassed the Florida legislature by callously dismissing the painful experiences of these students," said Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith. "We call on the governor, Trovillion's colleagues in the Legislature and all fair minded Floridians to stand with students who are striving to make our schools safe."

"Trovillion is entitled to his religious beliefs and should be free to express them," said Kilbourn. "However, we question his judgment in treating these students in such a hostile manner."
Equality Florida has asked Floridians to express outrage by contacting Governor Jeb Bush at 850-488-4441, asking him to show desperately needed leadership and to condemn the bigoted behavior of a callous legislator.

Florida State Rep. Trovillion can be contacted at:
Phone: 850-488-0660
Fax: 407-623-1357

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