Florida ‘don’t say gay’ bill banning school children from discussing sexual orientation close to becoming law

Bill would give parents a legal footing to sue schools that discuss LGBTQ issues

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:09

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Florida lawmakers are trying to pass a law that would limit classroom discussions about gender and sexual orientation. The bill would also give parents legal footing to sue schools or teachers who teach or discuss those topics.

LGBTQ advocates are calling the bill "Don't Say Gay" legislation, and fear that - should it be adopted into law - it would suppress any discussion or teaching about LGBTQ history, oppression, or identity.

"This would erase LGBTQ+ history and culture from lesson plans and it sends a chilling message to LGBTQ+ young people and communities," Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, the executive director of the national LGBTQ youth advocacy group GLSEN, said in a statement to ABC News.

Critics of the law fear that by effectively banning the discussion of gender and LGBTQ issues in the classroom, LGBTQ students will feel as though their identities or sexual orientations are shameful.

Heather Wilkie, of central Florida LGBTQ advocacy group the Zebra Coalition, told ABC News that an "effective learning environment" was one where students could "feel safe and healthy."

"When you have laws like this, that directly attack our kids for who they are, it prevents them from learning," she said. "It prevents them from being able to be healthy."

The bill is sponsored by Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, who said in a tweet he hopes that it will "reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children."

Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, was among the voices pushing back against the bill, claiming it would end with students' deaths.

"This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in," he wrote on Twitter. "In a national survey (@TrveorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can't talk to teachers?"

The Human Rights Campaign reported that several states moved to pass laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ individuals, including Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

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