Welcome to

 

The Florida Legislative Investigation Committee

On the heels of the Montgomery and Tallahassee bus boycotts, the Florida state senate in 1956-- under the leadership of former acting Governor and now Senator Charley Johns -- appointed a seven-person special joint committee to "investigate all organizations whose principles or activities include a course of conduct on the part of any person or group which would constitute violence, or a violation of the laws of the state...."

Within a year, Johns had steered the committee to civil rights organizations and activists, communists and socialists, and antinuclear and peace groups. Initially, the NAACP -- deemed a "communist front organization -- was the principal target. However, following a legal challenge, the Committee -- empowered to subpoena witnesses, take sworn testimony, and employ "expert assistance," including informants -- turned its attention to the homosexual.

For the next eight years, the Committee and its investigative staff, terrorized Florida's closeted homosexual communities. It primarily focused on teachers -- both in colleges and in the public schools. By 1963 Johns took credit for the dismissal of 39 professors and deans and the revocation of 71 teaching certificates.

It was only after the issuance of its 1964 report, "Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida," -- known as the "purple pamphlet" because of its cover -- that the Committee was disbanded following an outcry of "state sponsored pornography."

The story of the Johns Committee and its impact of gay and lesbian teachers and educators, such as Arlen Davies and Sue Sponnoble, is detailed in Lonely Hunters. Below are stories and photographs that do not appear in this book.

 

Strange Bedfellows: Arlen Davies and Charley Johns at the University of Florida

 

Lesbian Teachers in Hillsborough County Schools!

 

Photographs of Charley Johns and the Gang

 

Excerpt from Dark Nights of the Soul: Charley Johns and the Chicken Ranch

 

Excerpt from Ferreting Out the Lesbian Menace: The Purple Pamphlet and the Deans of Women