NYC mayor buys billboards in Florida to denounce controversial law, lure unhappy Floridians to move north

New York City is launching an advertising campaign denouncing Florida's controversial Parental Rights in Education law with billboards across the Sunshine State, inviting Floridians unhappy with the state's rightward shift to move to the Big Apple.

The billboards supporting LGBTQ visibility will be displayed in five major markets in Florida, including Tampa, for eight weeks, starting Monday.

New York City mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, made the announcement Monday, one week after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial bill, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Kindergarten through third grade.

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The Parental Rights in Education law text states that "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." 

DeSantis and fellow Republicans say the new law affirms the right of parents, not teachers, to decide when children learn about sexual orientation and gender identity, and gives parents more control over their children’s education.

Critics say it is homophobic and could do harm to children who are gay. LGBTQ groups have condemned the legislation, which allows parents to sue school districts for noncompliance, and say it will marginalize LGBTQ children and families.

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"This political showmanship by attempting to demonize a particular group or community is not accepted," said NYC Mayor Eric Adams in announcing the billboard campaign from City Hall. He called the Florida law a "targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ population."

Messages on the digital billboards include: "People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ isn’t one of them", and "Come to the city where you can say whatever you want." There will also be social media ads with the same messages, city officials said.

The billboards in partnership will be up for eight weeks in major markets across Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

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"This is the city of Stone Wall. This is the city where we are proud to talk about how you can live in a comfortable setting and not be harassed, not be abused, not just as adults but as young people," Adams said. "Listen, we want you here in New York.  We want you right here in New York City."

New York state has seen more migration to Florida than from Florida in recent years. In the last three years of the 2010s, more than 60,000 New Yorkers moved to Florida each year on average. By contrast, during the same period, fewer than 24,000 Floridians on average annually moved to New York state, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

FOX 5 NY and the Associated Press contributed to this report.