On March 8, 2022, Florida Senate passed the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, by a vote of 22-17. The bill raises multiple concerns for LGBTQ+ people and allies alike, and it appears that similar legislation is being proposed in 15 other US states.
Under the ‘Don’t Say Gay’, or as it’s officially known, the Parental Rights in Education bill, “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” is prohibited. Activists fear that as a result of this law, parents will be able to sue school officials and teachers should they facilitate discussions on queer identities and issues.
Despite receiving a lot of negative attention, including causing staff protests at Disney and ESPN, and having celebrities such as Oscar Isaac and Raven-Symoné denounce the bill, Florida has encouraged various other states to pursue similar, and in some cases worse, legislative changes.
Perhaps the most concerning bill is being proposed in Tennesse, where teachings to children in kindergarten all the way up to grade 12 would be affected. Not only does the proposal say that schools “shall not locally adopt or use in the public schools of this state, textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles,” but it also brands queer youth as “abnormal”.
In Kansas, officials are hoping to make materials that promote “homosexuality” a misdemeanor under the state’s obscenity laws. Meanwhile, in Indiana, new legislation is being proposed which would forbid teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues without parental permission.
Legislators in Oklahoma have introduced five different bills with the aim to enact LGBTQ+ censorship in classrooms, two of which prohibit librarians from distributing materials or discussing “any form of non-procreative sex,” gender identity, and LGBTQ+ issues.
Another one of Oklahoma’s five bills would ban public schools from employing anyone who “Promotes positions in the classroom or at any function of the public school that is in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.” The legislation would also ban requiring public university courses surrounding “gender, sexual, or racial diversity, equality, or inclusion.”
We have a “Don’t Say Gay” bill worse than Florida’s and about 4 more bills to go along with it-all equally filled with hate. GOP and B list celebrities are accusing librarians and teachers of “grooming” kids.
— Rep. Gloria Johnson (@VoteGloriaJ) March 19, 2022
Despite a recent study suggesting that more Americans than ever support LGBTQ+ rights, Republican politicians are spearheading these movements, with hopes to gain support from parents and conservative community members in upcoming midterm elections.
Speaking on the implications of these harmful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ imitation bills, GLAAD’s Barbara Simon said, “They divide schools and businesses when those should be safe spaces to learn and earn a living.”
According to NBC News, a record 238 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in the United States so far this year, already surpassing the 191 proposed in all of 2021.
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