On Thursday, 24 February, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was passed by the Florida House of Representatives by 21 votes. With 69 votes for and 47 against, seven Republican Representatives joined the 40 Democrats in opposing the bill, which will now head to the Republican-controlled Senate.
“[The bill] sends a terrible message to our youth, that there is something so wrong, so inappropriate, so dangerous about this topic that we have to censor it from classroom instruction,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the first Latino LGBTQ+ Democrat to serve in the Florida legislature.
“I want to make sure that for those LGBTQ youth in Florida and around the country and in the world who are watching, I want to make sure that they know this: You are loved, you are supported, and we will wake up every single day to fight for you because you are worth fighting for.”
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The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which allows parents to sue schools that ‘promote’ LGBTQ+ topics such as sexual orientation or gender identity, was recently amended so that teachers will not be forced to ‘out’ their LGBTQ+ students to their parents. This was an amendment previously proposed by State Rep. Joe Harding, but it was withdrawn earlier this week before it was passed by the House of Representatives.
“With these extreme and harmful bills, a majority of Florida Republican lawmakers are only making life harder for teachers and LGBTQ students by trying to ban conversation about LGBTQ people, Black history, and discrimination across society,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, in a statement.
“Bills about “parents’ rights” should recognize LGBTQ people are parents too, or that parents have LGBTQ children, and their voices matter. More young people are LGBTQ than in any previous generation – they and their stories will not be silenced. School should be a safe space for everyone to learn about themselves and each other. Florida’s Senate should refuse to codify censorship and set back their state’s future.”
Alongside the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, another bill called the ‘Stop W.O.K.E.‘ bill has been quietly passed in Florida, 74-41. According to GLAAD, this bill “limits conversation at school and workplaces about root causes of injustice and discrimination against women, LGBTQ people and Black people.”
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