An Open Letter to Governor Ron DeSantis: Provide Protection for Minors and Pass HB 1

by | Feb 28, 2024

HB 1 passed overwhelmingly in the Florida House and Senate with bipartisan support. Governor, you have until Friday afternoon, March 1, to sign, veto, or do nothing and it becomes law.

Deliberation is healthy, but you seem to be agonizing over legislation that we believe should be simple to support. You cannot ignore the fact that social media has gotten out of control and is damaging the lives of tens of thousands of Florida children.

We understand the concern may be the possible impact on parents’ rights. We believe the last-minute amendment on the floor mitigated this to allow a child under 16 to use an account if a parent created it.

Florida Citizens Alliance has been a staunch supporter of parents’ rights, but they are not absolute. A parent cannot:

  • Sex traffic their child or aid and abet in their ‘grooming.’
  • Allow their child’s body to be mutilated or given puberty blockers.
  • Allow their child under 16 to drive.
  • Provide them with alcohol or other drugs.

Society simply puts guardrails in place to protect our children. HB 1 does just that.

The evidence is clear that minors on social media have much higher rates of suicide, depression, cyberbullying, and even physical bullying via their interactions on these platforms. In addition, there’s growing evidence showing that spending so much time on electronic devices impacts young brain development.

Along with the guardrails HB 1 puts in place for children regarding social media. It also protects minors from inadvertently accessing obscene websites by requiring anonymous age verification. Current Florida law is clear: children cannot have access to this material, and HB 1 will enforce just that. 

Governor DeSantis, we strongly urge you to sign this bill. It may not be perfect, but no bill ever is. You have championed countless legislation to protect children during the pandemic and in education. If you think changes are essential, you still have two years to make them happen, but please do not throw Florida’s children under the bus by vetoing this legislation.

You can view the HB 1 legislation here.

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Staël Dantes

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