On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, the “Don't Say Gay” bill (HB 1557/SB 1834) passed the Florida Senate Education Committee.
The bill was proposed to Florida lawmakers in hopes to restrict the discussion of sexuality and gender identity in classrooms in primary grade levels. This bill is one of many efforts to eliminate the teaching or discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools by Republican lawmakers.
Those who support the bill advocate for the parental right of having a say in the curriculum being taught in the classroom. Parents can sue school districts that violate the terms under the bill. While critics who deemed the proposal the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, argue that the bill diminishes and ignores previously existing protections for LGBTQ+ children in schools. These critics also mention the regulation of these topics in schools further isolates and stigmatizes LGBTQ+ children and prevents teachers from providing a safe and inclusive environment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vocalized his support for the bill on Monday stating that conversations with students and teachers regarding gender identity are “entirely inappropriate” and that the bigger issue is that “parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what's going on in their schools.”
A National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health conducted by the Trevor Project stated, “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.” The survey declared that 50% of LGBTQ youth found access to safe spaces through their school. Hindering access to affirming spaces in schools may lead to higher rates of suicide in LGBTQ+ students.
In response to the passing of the bill, President Joe Biden directed a tweet towards members of the LGBTQ community (specifically children who are affected by the bill) stating, “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protection and safety you deserve.”