In this episode Diana talks to Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida, about everyone should be paying attention to what is happening in Florida, how the tide is turning and she remains hopeful abotu the future. Nadie discusses how Equality Florida is fighting anti-LGBTQ policies in Florida (and how they’re winning).

In this candid conversation, Nadine also shares the incredible organizing that is happening on the ground, in what she calls “Frontline Florida,” and how parents from all over the country can support actions and efforts on the ground.

Listen to find out what organizing tactics have worked in Florida, why they issued a

travel advisory to Florida, how Equality Florida is combatting book bans and fighting to #bringbooksback, and how parents are raise their voices against anti-LGBTQ policies in Florida.

Make sure to follow Equality Florida on Instagram @equalityfl


Until next time, don’t forget hope is our superpower.



00:08 – Diana Limongi (Host)
Welcome to Parenting and Politics, a podcast for parents who want to make a difference, where we look at parenting through a political lens. I’m Diana Limongi. Today, our guest is Nadine Smith, who is the Executive Director of Equality Florida, and I’m excited she’s here to discuss what’s going on in Florida and how her organization is fighting back. Hi, nadine.

00:31 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Well, hi there. Thanks for inviting me.

00:34 – Diana Limongi (Host)
It’s so nice to have you here, because there’s lots going on in Florida.

00:40 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
You know what we call Florida, frontline Florida oh, I’ve never heard of that. I like that. What you know, it’s not that we are the state where we’re the only state where things are happening, but we’re the state where everything bad thing is happening. And so we have had to, you know, we reinforce to people that you know Florida is is a border, not just a state, and it is the front line of a battle that everybody, no matter where you live, you have a stake in us winning in Florida. The good news is the tide is turning, or, more accurately, we are turning the tide, but the hardest work is ahead of us. I’m always happy to talk about what’s happening in Florida, what we’re building here to fight back and the lessons that we are exporting from frontline Florida to help folks in other states block these terrible laws.

01:35 – Diana Limongi (Host)
Before we get into it, because I am excited to hear from someone on the front lines in Florida. I know you’re doing great work. I’ve been following along on Instagram. Before we start the meaty conversation of Florida, I always start the podcast with the question parenting and politics. What comes to mind when I say those, when I put those two together for you?

01:58 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Well, as a parent of a preteen, you know when my I remember when my son was born people said to me are you concerned that being a parent is going to sort of pull you away from politics, overwhelm you in a way that doesn’t let you show up? And I admit I had a little bit of anxiety about how I would strike a balance. But what is absolutely true is that my son has given me absolute clarity. It has being a parent has burnt away all of the frivolousness and I am crystal clear that the things I do today or fail to do will have a huge impact on his life. So, rather than a distraction, it is a daily motivator. It is a source of great focus and incredible joy to be a parent.

02:56 – Diana Limongi (Host)
I love that. It is true, some people, I think, are very apolitical and then they have kids and then they kind of are thrust into. Oh, I have to pay attention to all of these things that are happening.

03:08 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
It’s really true.

I mean, one of the fastest growing areas at Equality Florida has been our Parenting with Pride program, and part of it has been that we’ve said it’s open to all parents.


So whether you’re a parent of a kid who just came out and you’re trying to find good information, or whether you’re a parent who you’re supportive of your kid but you’re trying to figure out you know you don’t see yourself as an activist, but you’re trying to figure out how to navigate some of these bad laws and still get your kid in a thriving environment in school, or whether you’re a parent who is an absolute fighter, ready to engage in the political arena on behalf of your kid, wherever you are, parenting with Pride is for you, and what we have seen is this massive influx of exactly the parent. You’re talking about someone who never thought of themselves as particularly political. They’re not hyper-partisan, but they’re seeing books being removed from the shelves. They’re seeing the best teachers being run out of the schools. They’re seeing this administration censoring curriculum, just absolutely going after academic freedom in our institutions of higher learning, and they have had enough institutions of higher learning and they have had enough.

04:33 – Diana Limongi (Host)
And that’s a great way, a great place to start to talk about kind of nitty gritty Florida. So I remember one of the first conversations and topics that I heard coming out of Florida was we should not have social emotional learning in schools, right, and that I think was related to kind of the gender right. Then we talked about don’t say gay, don’t say gay bills, which you’ll go into depth in a little bit about what you’re working, what you have worked on in Florida and how you’ve been able to defeat some of those really just awful proposals. And the latest one that I heard about was Florida wants to roll back child labor laws, which is kind of insane to me because we’re in the 21st century and it’s like we want to go back to the 1800s or whenever kids were selling newspapers in the streets.

05:26 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Yeah, no, it is. You know, when you read them all back to back to back, you begin to get this picture of this dystopian world that they’re trying to create. And I think what’s important for people to understand is that these are not random actions. They are all part of a worldview, and that worldview basically wants to take us back. You know, desantis was seeking to be the next Confederate president. It was a desire to take us back to the pre-civil rights era, to strip women of control of their own bodies, to take away health care, but it’s everything from removing diversity, equity and inclusion to ending the youth risk behavior survey During COVID. Instead of ramping up strategies to stop the spread, they simply stopped counting properly. If you want to not address, you know, risk behaviors among young people, instead of addressing the problem, just get rid of the tool that measures how much it is increasing under these DeSantis policies. So they always have a strategy of eliminating the data, the ability to either create the data that exposes the problem, or your access to the data.

There have been lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit directed at this administration because they will not, despite our strong sunshine law, give up information that ought to be readily available to the public. So it is not an accident that they seek to control media. You know, part of what hurt DeSantis on the national in his national campaign was one people really seeing what he was doing in Florida when it came to book bans and censorship and surveillance and all of these things. But also because he had created such a hermetically sealed and all of these things. But also because he had created such a hermetically sealed, safe, cushy environment in which he talked only to the media that were friendly. And suddenly he’s out on the national trail and he’s actually getting real questions from journalists willing to challenge him, and so they are systematically stripping away anything that they see that creates empathy, that creates an understanding of our country’s history. It is not an accident that they’ve gone after anything that speaks honestly about racial justice in America by labeling it critical race theory, even though there’s no critical race theory being taught below the graduate level.

But this is the creation of the boogeyman. This is the creation of the moral panic that then allows them to strip away rights. They manufacture a problem. They tell you that this problem presents an immediate threat to you and your loved ones and that they, and they alone, are the ones who can fix it.

It is a rinse and repeat cycle. The good news is people are waking up to it and now when you go to school board meetings in Florida, people opposing the book banners and the censors and the Moms for Liberty fake AstroTurf political operatives, vastly you know our real parents of kids in those schools are outnumbering these extremist operatives and so we’re beginning to see the tide turn, clawing back these things that have been taken and on the national front, on the national, on the national stage, desantis has had to carry the label of book banner and censor and a person who attacks whoever he thinks is politically weak and will appease his base. And when he dropped out of the race, returned to Florida, he actually came in third behind Nikki Haley, who had also dropped out when voters went to the polls to vote in the Republican primary. He has begun back, peddling furiously away from his own initiatives that he thought were going to be his launchpad to the White House.

09:35 – Diana Limongi (Host)
So can we go back a little bit? And why do you think that you know the so-called like parental rights movement and groups like, for example, moms for Liberty? Why do you think that these groups and these kind of outspoken few became so popular in Florida? Why do you think their message resonated and I’m so glad to hear you say that the tide is turning, but why that initial aside from fear, right? Why do you think that it resonated so much in Florida in particular?

10:12 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Yeah, I don’t think it did resonate. In fact, let’s be clear that the Moms for Liberty is a political operation that was created by the now disgraced former head of the Republican Party, christian Ziegler, and his wife, bridget Ziegler, as a. From the very beginning, it was a concocted political operation designed to bring suburban moms back into the Republican Party, and so it got a massive infusion of funds. You know that they used on generating this fear, you know. Did you know that teachers are convincing your kids to change their gender? Did you know that they are, you know, indoctrinating them with critical race theory? You know there are books. They actually got a book banned because it was the true story of two male penguins, a penguin chick, in a New York zoo, and they labeled it yes, three makes tango. Yes, and tango makes three right. Yes, I have it in Spanish.

11:12 – Diana Limongi (Host)
I was trying to translate it into my head.

11:18 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
But you know. So I think it’s really important that people understand that this is all right-wing think tank generated outrage, and this is not speculation. There’s a New York Times article. I’m quoted in it, but the place I’m going to draw your attention is to a conservative foundation that basically said you know what Marriage gay people getting married doesn’t freak our people out enough anymore. We’ve got to find something else that really freaks them out, and so their quote is essentially they said, we threw everything against the wall to see what would stick, and so we can work with that, and that is why, over the last three and a half years in particular, you have seen hundreds upon hundreds of bills being filed that attack trans kids, that attack trans people, that attack parents of trans kids, that seek to strip away the rights of parents of trans kids, that seek to insert the government between a parent, their child and their doctor. All of these things are the very direct result of right-wing think tanks trying to find a hot-button issue that could rile up their base. That is the only reason that we’re having those conversations, and so you know that’s the bad news.

They’ve inflicted a great deal of harm. We’ve lost some really good people who have left the state of Florida because they aren’t certain that they can get health care for their kids. They can’t. They’re not certain they can get health care for themselves. They’re seeing their schools, purposely by our governor, made to be hostile places for their kids, and so they have moved to places where every child is protected and every family is respected. That said, the tide is turning because you can only hold up this artificial, you know, pretend organization once the real parents started showing up. And, of course, moms for Liberty has been exposed in so many ways for its hypocrisy. You know, embroiled in a big sex scandal right now its founder, and so I think people are seeing that. And so the bad news is they’ve done a lot of harm. They’ve driven out good teachers. The good news is, real parents who have kids in those school districts are showing up, pushing back, and once Moms for Liberty is out of the picture, those parents are still there saying how are you making this school a better school?

Return the books, bring back the books, stop this ridiculous. You know it’s the next iterative of the Daughters of the Confederacy. You know, if you read in your history, there came this moment where the Daughters of the Confederacy swept through the schools, insisting on the whitewashing of American history. It’s where all of these Confederate statues 60 years, I think, after the war, suddenly get propped up in front of schools and in front of courthouses and city halls. You know so when people like, oh you’re, you’re destroying history.

No, that was a propaganda campaign, um to whitewash history, to to eliminate the truth about the civil war in its, in its uh origin, and this is the latest iteration of that. And so I think that the reason they are waning is not simply because they’re embroiled in scandal and their talking points don’t hold up. Nobody thinks of a bill that strips libraries of books as a parental rights bill. In fact, quite the opposite. They see it as taking rights away from us as parents and handing them over to these narrowminded, bigoted extremists and saying they get to decide what your kid can read in school, they get to decide what anybody’s kid gets to read in school, even though they don’t have a child in that school district at all so you had some impressive wins.

15:21 – Diana Limongi (Host)
Equality florida um, I think there were 21 out of 22 bills that were shut down. Yeah, tell us a little bit about what, um, what that work is like and and what you’re looking forward to.

15:39 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
As you know, we get closer and closer to the elections, which yeah Well, the thing I want to be clear about is, yes, we were able to defeat or nullify 21 of 22 really bad bills. The 22nd bill that went through was a was an expansion of the stop woke bill that the court, I think three or four days before session ended, labeled that the underlying bill unconstitutional. So that’s no doubt going to end up in the courts as well. You know, we have a governor who has been so focused on a presidential run that he hasn’t. The only lens he was putting legislation through was how can I use it on the campaign trail, and so it hasn’t mattered to him how much taxpayer dollars end up being spent defending these indefensible laws. You know going he doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to him whether they’re constitutional or not, because he’s not paying the bill we are, and so he still got to use them as talking points. The good news is those talking points sort of backfired on him. You had Republicans saying you know why are you attacking Disney? Why are you attacking businesses? This is not what a healthy democracy looks like. You had people saying look, I might not know anything about trans issues, trans health care, but I do know that when it comes to what is best for a child, it really ought to be the parents consulting with skilled doctors and their own child to determine the best course of action, not a state legislator and not the governor of a state. And so I think that he sort of provoked his own backlash. And when you look at elections, midterm elections around the country, one of the messages that has really resonated, I think it was Virginia, where their mantra was don’t be Florida, and they rejected all of the anti-abortion bills. They did not fall for the anti-trans you know millions of dollars spent on anti-trans commercials, you know. We saw the tide begin to turn there. We saw, you know, we saw it in other States as well. And so I think that people are waking up to the manipulation, these fake, this manufactured outrage and this appeal to ignorance.

And I’ve seen it, you know, with people that I’ve met with. I spoke at a, I spoke at a conference at Howard university, and at the end of the talk part they take questions from the audience. And there was a guy there who, right there on the front row, raised his hand, got up and he said my name is Rich, I live in Delray Beach and I’m MAGA, or I used to be, and he said you know, if somebody would have told me I would be at Howard University at this conference, you know, participating in something convened by the author of the 1619 Project, he said I would have told you you were bugging. But he talked about his journey and he and I have become sort of pen pals since and it’s really been fascinating to me. But he really broke down how the strategy of keeping people in a constant state of fear, desperation and panic is is the ground that they have to create in order to get people to go along with their increasingly draconian attacks on basic liberties and whatever they name a bill, believe that immediately that it is the opposite. The intention is the opposite. If they call something parental rights, it is about stripping the rights away from parents. They get furious with us because you know the moniker don’t say gay, don’t say trans has stuck, and they would say that’s not the name of the bill. That’s not the name of the bill.

Well, the bill is named. The bill naming is not some independent entity that names bills. It’s just part of your propaganda. You. You use the name as propaganda.

We told people what the bill actually does as propaganda. We told people what the bill actually does, and I think the fact that we were able to force the governor into a settlement is the proof that this bill. From the beginning, we warned them that this vague language and the hostile rhetoric that surrounded it, coming from the governor, coming from Republican lawmakers, was going to have a chilling effect, was going to cause books to be banned, was going to cause teachers to be fearful of mentioning their spouse if they were in a same-sex marriage, that it was going to make a hostile environment for LGBTQ young people. All of those things came to pass because we knew they would, and that was the intention of the vagueness of the law, and by forcing them into court, we forced them to define things and in defining them, they nullified the worst aspects of that bill. There’s much more work to be done, especially when it comes to this sort of relentless demonization of trans people and their parents.

20:48 – Diana Limongi (Host)
Because every time we force them to tell the truth and not hide in the toxic spirit of these vague laws to have that chilling effect, we gain ground again. So I want to talk about two things that you mentioned the book bans I read that Florida is the number one place with the number of books that are banned. Right, and it’s everything from. You know the biography of Roberto Clemente, who’s like this huge baseball figure right To you. Know biographies of Sonia Sotomayor, to books that highlight LGBTQ stories and or by LGBTQ authors. So how has Equality Florida been pushing back? And I hear you say that the tide is turning, which is great, and is the hope that we’re going to get rid of the book bans.

21:36 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Oh, absolutely. In fact, we’ve launched a campaign, a coalition effort called Bring Back Books that is designed to sort of coordinate all of the efforts of a huge coalition. And let me say this right now you know, equality Florida has been at the forefront. We have, we have quarterbacked a lot, a lot of these strategies, but I want to give a shout out to all of the parents, the ones whose voice were shaking as they stepped to the microphone, the ones who have never been activists before, who showed up for the fight, the students who organized themselves into protests, students have done walkouts, students have gotten themselves on buses to Tallahassee, and there’s a whole array of education and LGBT and PTA groups all across the state. Everybody has leaned in, everybody has put their oars in the water to help turn this tide, and so I believe not only are we turning the tide, but we’re building a coalition that is going to serve to move our state forward on issues.

There’s a professor at Boston University his name is Stephen Prothrow and he’s written about this and basically he says these backlash moments are actually lagging indicators. It is a moment where we discover that, by the time the backlash arrives, it is an admission that the culture has already shifted, and so they can be awful, they can be horrible, but they can also be the fertile ground in which the next quantum leap forward comes. And I think about marriage equality as an example where, you know, the far right came after marriage equality because they saw that the tide was turning. They saw that support was steadily growing and so they raced, you know, state by state, to foreclose the possibility by passing these ballot measures, and I think they won 38 times in a row. But then suddenly the tide turned. We had four states that where the people went to the ballot and voted for marriage equality. And then you had court case after court case where the tide turned again and you had judges saying no, equal rights is equal rights and they supported marriage equality. And in Florida, we saw a quantum leap in public support right after marriage equality was blocked at the ballot in 2008. We looked at the next polling and suddenly support for everything you know employment, non-discrimination, you know, equal treatment of the law, including marriage equality was growing fast.

Have to push back against these attacks, but we also have to keep in mind what do we want our schools to actually look like? What do we want our laws to be that actually support parents and create safe learning environments for students, and undoes all of this harm. Because I believe that what we are building, the coalitions that we’re building, the parents who are, you know, sort of waking up to the harm being inflicted the brain drain, where the best and the brightest scholars and potential students aren’t coming to schools, where we are, you know, in danger of losing accreditation at top universities. Where you have people like Emmett Smith, you know, who once was proud to say he was a graduate of the Florida University System. You know calling them out for their just absolutely calling them out for their attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion.

25:19 – Diana Limongi (Host)
So I think there are a families who have left the state about. You know the rhetoric, the book banning the language being used in schools and kind of this desire Well, at least this is the way I see it from the outside right Desire to kind of drive people out or make them be invisible if they stay and live in fear.

26:01 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Yeah, yeah Well, I think that’s the difference. People chose, decided not to live in fear. I have nothing but respect for the people who have left the state because they want they prioritize taking care of their kids and they’re. Everybody has to make decisions for themselves. They have unique circumstances. You know, dwayne Wade, you know said publicly that he and his family were leaving florida. I mean, this is the hero of the miami heat, a two celebrity household, uh, a you know wealthy celebrity saying florida is not a safe place for my kid.

So when we began to be inundated by phone calls and emails and you know, people stopping us in the street to say, you know, I remember a friend of mine, somebody I’ve known for a very long time, didn’t know they had a trans kid who said I want to know if my son is going to be able to access health care when he comes home on spring break. Like, what is the state of the law on spring break? Like what is the state of the law? And you know there were so many situations that were people were asking us to make the determination for them about the level of safety. So finally we said we’re going to put out a travel advisory that tells people the state of the law, because I can’t answer for you whether or not you should come to Florida. I can tell you the state of play, I can tell you what laws Florida. I can tell you the state of play. I can tell you what laws exist. I can tell you the ones that are potentially on the horizon. And then you have to make the decision. And so for some people, that has meant not coming to Florida. For other people, they have said we’re coming and we are coming to join the fight.

So, whichever decision people make about whether or not to come, or not come to Florida, whether to stay or to leave, I think my message is the only unacceptable position is silence. If you’re leaving, make a lot of noise on your way out, make sure they know that they lost this surgeon, this business. You know these taxpayers because of this hateful rhetoric and the dangerous environment it creates. And if you come, great, come, join the fight. And you got to. You know everybody’s got to raise their voice in this moment and you know, as I said, we’re, one of the worst parts about all of this is that we’re going to be cleaning up this mess long after DeSantis has left office. We will still be fixing what he has broken. Businesses will still be reeling from the talent gap that emerges.


Because you know the best and the brightest don’t want to come to a place where they’re told that they cannot be themselves, where the laws are strip away freedom, you know, where the governor makes your health care decisions, not you, where the government tells you you don’t get to do what’s best for your kid and where the government creates an environment where books are yanked off shelves with very little reason behind it. So we are seeing a change. We launched, as I said, this coalition effort called Bring Books Back. That is intended not simply to change the law, to do the education necessary to get school districts who want to do what’s right for the kids not to be in a fearful crouch, but to boldly assert the rights of young people and to push back where there are shadows and vagueness. The default should be what keeps our kids safe, what gives our kids access to the best education?

29:40 – Diana Limongi (Host)
I remember the travel advisory that you put out. It was very powerful because I think a lot of times in the US we we see travel advisories to you know dangerous places in other parts of the world and here was a travel advisory. You know, in our own backyard, because of all these awful, the awful way that families are being treated, yeah, you know, we got a donation.

30:11 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
I think it was like for $3,227. It was an odd number and it was accompanied by a letter. And it was a family I think they were from Illinois who said we voted as a family. We had tickets to Disney World, we had or it might have been Universal, we had a hotel, we had everything planned and we voted as a family whether or not to go. And when we decided to cancel, my youngest son said we should take the money we were going to spend and send it to the fight. So my youngest son said we should take the money we were going to spend and send it to the fight, and so she wanted us to know that that was their tally of what they would have spent in Florida on a vacation, and instead they wanted us to fight for safe school.

30:57 – Diana Limongi (Host)
That’s so powerful, that’s so so powerful. So we like to talk about action and hope. So the first part of that is action. So what do you want? Parents listening who maybe not they’re not in florida like me, I’m in new york, um, to kind of take away from what is happening and what you’re working on at Equality Florida.

31:27 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Sure, I would emphasize yeah, oh, go ahead. What?

31:30 – Diana Limongi (Host)
was the last part of that. I was gonna say how they can help you know if we’re not in Florida and for people that are in Florida to get you know, invite them to whichever initiative you think is the most pressing right now.

31:42 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Yeah, well, I would say, wherever you are in the country, Florida is the front line of a fight that you are in, and I hope that you either know that or know that now.

And so, because of that, among the things that we need people to do are support the work here in Florida. You know you can. You can support us financially. You can come and volunteer Whatever way you’re willing to. You know, be fresh horses in this battle. Do that, and you can go to equalityfloridaorg and you can see the different ways that you can participate. The other thing I would say is if you live out of state, write a letter. The other thing I would say is if you live out of state, write a letter, write a letter to the tourism board, write a letter to the newspaper and talk about what you think of Florida right now, because I know that for many people, florida has become a cautionary tale and they have used that in their own states to preempt the kind of attacks in the school district. So I think it is Minnesota and maybe Maryland that have bans on book bans, like you can’t ban books here. We’re not going to let that happen. We’re our history, because it’s uncomfortable. We’re big enough and strong enough and secure enough to deal with discomfort, but what we won’t deal with is that kind of censorship.

In Illinois I know there have been bills introduced that would give tax breaks to health care workers and teachers who flee Florida looking for a place where academic freedom actually matters, the teachers are permitted to teach and parents aren’t replaced by, you know, a small handful of right-wing extremists. So I see different states taking on initiatives to thwart these same efforts that are unfolding in Florida from coming to their state. I would say get involved. Go to your school board meetings. Even if you’ve never been politically active, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have a political science degree. Your voice as a parent standing in front of the school board and saying voice as a parent standing in front of the school board and saying I do not want what is happening in Florida to happen in this school district carries a tremendous amount of weight. Don’t wait for them to start pulling books off of the shelves before you show up.

And then you know we have elections coming. We have elections that will either embolden the worst impulses to. That will either embolden the worst impulses to, you know, in our country, or they will push back and pave the way for a democracy that actually respects you know, all families and protects all students and seeks to build an equitable future that we all have a stake in, not this fearful posture. You know, I think the worst part of what we are seeing in this country right now is how much this appeal to fear, how much this idea that the only way that you can get what you need is to take from someone else, to demonize someone else, to vilify someone else whether that’s immigrants or the LGBTQ community, you know, or somebody of a different party, like all of this rhetoric that has us so fearful that people think that they’ve got to be armed to the teeth to go get a coffee at Starbucks. We have to push back against that dehumanizing fear, and part of it is this fight.

It’s not just about schools. It’s really about the soul of our country, who we are, how we identify ourselves, how we whether liberty and pursuit of happiness and freedom actually aren’t just hollowed out campaign rhetoric but actually core values that we will support in people. I don’t know what your faith is, I don’t know what your beliefs are, your political party, but I believe you have a right to exist right to exist, and I don’t believe, if we disagree, I have a right um to create laws that punish you for for that, and and right now, people who who believe in that have to stand up so that you know, phony grass, phony organizations that are that are um cooked up to take away our protections, to vilify and demonize us, aren’t allowed to corrode these fundamental structures in our society, whether it’s education, voting rights, healthcare access or an education that reflects the diversity of our country.

36:45 – Diana Limongi (Host)
And I love everything you said. And just like that family decided to not go to Florida. You know, I think that’s very, it’s very powerful if Florida looks at kind of their tourism numbers, right, and sees the decline because people are are choosing not to go to a place, are choosing not to go to a place where their value like it’s not something that I would want to bring my family to, it’s not a place where I would want to bring my family to, right, and I think that the power of the purse is like super powerful as well.

37:16 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Well, you know that’s another reason we put out the advisory, because we said, listen, we, you’ve got to decide for yourself whether you come or you don’t, right? So I have another friend who they have family here. They live elsewhere but they have family here and they’re like you know. I got to come see mom and dad but they tally up what they spend on taxes for, you know, whatever they buy while they’re here and they donate that. So anytime we see a donation that comes in, that’s like a weird amount. We’re pretty convinced it is somebody else using adopting that same strategy.

But I think that what you were saying about tourism, you know I live here, I grew up here. I want Florida to be a great place with tremendous economic opportunity, and it can be. We were well on the way. We had reversed the brain drain that had our best and brightest going elsewhere. You know we had done a lot of that work and so what DeSantis has done is jeopardize a lot of that. We have benefited as a state tremendously from the post-COVID backlog of tourism. So a lot of people who planned their trip and it was postponed for multiple years. You know Florida was the beneficiary, but now that that backlog is behind us. We are seeing lots of conferences cancel. We are seeing, you know, people making decisions not to come to Florida and we’ve seen a reversal in those really strong tourism numbers and we’ve seen a decline. That’s one way that we, you know, can kind of, you know, see the impact.

But I think that the harder thing to see are the innovators, the smart people that decide not to come to Florida, the way that businesses won’t be able to recruit the best and the brightest because people want to go to a place where their entire family can be included.

And I remember talking to a university president who said we had a top scholar all the way to the place of having a house picked up, picked out on the river, and his son called and said you know, I’m really not comfortable coming to Florida. And that was it. That was the end of the negotiation. He said I’m not going to live in a place where my own kid has to think twice about visiting. So that’s going to be harder to track, that’s going to be harder to measure and that’s why I say we’re going to be repairing the damage of DeSantis and his hateful crusades long after he is out of office, out of the governor’s mansion, and I think you know our job is to make sure that people see the harm that has been inflicted by these cruel measures and to call people to the better angels you know of their nature not to give in to this fearful, hateful agenda that might temporarily make you feel a little superior by looking down on others, but it’s not a sustainable way to grow a country, a community or a neighborhood.

40:17 – Diana Limongi (Host)
This has all been so enlightening and I’m so glad to hear you say that the tide is turning in Florida, because we’re worried, looking. I mean, there’s also a piece of the media, that’s you know the media. There hasn’t been a headline that has said 21 of the 22 bills have, you know, been defeated. At least I have not seen it. And it’s always that fear mongering and the kind of highlighting, you know, the other side winning. So I’m really glad that you are here to tell us that the tide is turning. So I want to thank you for that.

40:50 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
Oh, absolutely, and there has been some good coverage. I mean, like Moms for Liberty is in decline, and again, not just because they’re embroiled in a in a sordid scandal, but because they went on 60 Minutes and had to articulate what they were about and they fell flat on their face. You know, and everyone could see them for who they are there. You know, there are indications, you know there was coverage of the fact that the hard right is losing its grip, even in a Republican-controlled majority, because they put all of their bets on DeSantis heading to the White House and taking them with him, and what they saw instead was the nation reject him, reject his message, reject his strategy and send him home. And so I do think that there’s an awakening or, you know, the breaking of a fever, whatever you want to call it. But winning isn’t won, and we know that the miles that are ahead of us are actually harder than the ones behind us. So we’re not letting up.

We are not in any way saying it’s smooth sailing from here, but what we are saying is the things we’re doing are having an impact and, more importantly, people across the state of Florida, from students to parents, to business leaders, to community leaders who have been sort of fearful of taking on a governor who was willing to remove duly elected leaders from their positions, to abuse his authority in ways that were unimaginable, they’re starting to stiffen their spines and say you know what? We’re not going to hide from this fight we’re going to stand up for our kids. We’re going to stand up for our communities. So, yes, beneath the headlines, some really impressive and magical things are happening and again, it’s not because we don’t think that there isn’t rough road ahead, but we know that it matters when parents show up. It matters when parents speak up and this is a fight that, no matter where you are in the country, this is the front line of a battle that you are part of.

42:48 – Diana Limongi (Host)
Nadine, tell us, to wrap up, what keeps you hopeful in this fight, in this moment in Florida.

42:56 – Nadine Smith (Guest)
What keeps me hopeful are the people I get to work with, who show up every day, who were willing to stand toe to toe with Moms for Liberty and the bullies that they travel with, called the Proud Boys, and show up and do the work.

What gives me hope are the students who they weren’t waiting for somebody to tell them what to do or give them direction. They said we’re going to walk out, we’re going to protest, we’re going to use our voices I can’t think of a better civics lesson than that and, most of all, the parents who just keep showing up and there’s more every day and they’re fighting for their kids and they’re fighting for an educational system that actually includes our families, and in doing so, they’re fighting for my kid too, and at the end of the day, and in doing so, they’re fighting for my kid too. And at the end of the day, what inspires me and gives me hope is my kid. He’s a great guy and he’s engaged. He cares about these issues, he cares about his classmates and, as much as they wanna shut out sociology and social, emotional learning and all of the things that make us good people, he is finding a way to be good people.

44:05 – Diana Limongi (Host)
I love that. Nadine, thank you so much for joining. I loved being in conversation with you and thank you for all the work you do in Florida, at Equality Florida. Everyone, make sure to follow Equality Florida on social media. On Instagram, they’re at EqualityFL. Thank you everyone for tuning into this episode. Make sure to subscribe, leave a review, share this episode with your friends, Follow us on Instagram at Parenting and Politics, and don’t forget to check out our shop. And until next time, don’t forget hope is our superpower. Thanks, Nadine, Bye everyone.


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