Last month, Florida passed the “Don’t Say Gay,” Bill, which prohibits the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation within schools throughout the state. Officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, the bill bans “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarden through third grade.
It also seems like other states may be following suit. According to NPR, Iowa, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee have all been proposing bills that mimic the same purpose as Florida’s. Many argue against the bills, saying they are homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic, and overall possess anti-gay rhetoric.
Supporters claim the bill is meant to prevent LGBTQ+ information from being promoted to youth until their parents choose to disclose the topic to them. The new bill would allow parents to sue if any discussion related to gender identity and sexual orientation were to arise within a classroom from kindergarten to fifth grade.
The Trevor Project believes this bill is harmful to LGBTQ+ identifying students. Their studies show that this could potentially lower the amount of access children have to LGBTQ+ affirming spaces. They write, “LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide than those who did not.”
When asked what they thought of the bill, students at Summit K2 seemed to disapprove of it. An 11th grader said, “I don’t agree with it. I think students should be able to have open discussions about their sexuality.”
Angela Romero believes, “It’s unfair because [students] may have nowhere else to bring it up if they can’t at school.”
Ashna Palikhe says, “People shouldn’t have to be scared. Kids should be aware of it so they can explore their identity. Keeping information from someone has never been good.”
“Let us say gay,” declared Syd Ashraf after being told about the new Florida policy.
There has been a lot of backlash at high schools across Florida. Many have organized walkouts and protests in opposition to the bill. This generation, Gen Z, is very passionate about these issues. They are very involved in politics and are determined to prevent more of these bills from arising.
photo credit: Stavrialena Gontzou, from unsplash.com