Florida introduces “Don’t say gay” school bill

The bill prohibits teachers from discussing the LGBTQ+ community in the classroom.

Empty school classroom. This story discusses the Florida
Image: Via Pixabay

In a concerning move, the Florida committee has passed a bill known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, preventing teachers from leading discussions around the LGBTQ+ community in schools.

Deemed by Gay Times as “archaic”, the HB 1557 bill was passed by Florida lawmakers on 20 January. As well as banning teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ content and limiting LGBTQ+ resources, the bill also means that legally schools can “out” students to their parents, which could have disastrous consequences for those outed.

The bill has been condemned by Equality Florida press secretary Brandon J Wolf, who made a statement to the Los Angeles Blade shortly after the bill was officially passed.

“Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces,” said Wolf.

“We should and we are encouraging these types of conversations in our schools. The impact that it has had on the surrounding community, on the surviving family members. This is not a taboo discussion,” said Carlos G Smith, the first Latino LGBTQ+ lawmaker of Florida, in an emotional video posted to social media.

“We will not be erased. LGBTQ families will not be invisible. LGBTQ students will not be invisible. They will be seen, they will be supported, they will be loved.”

In his social media post, Smith referenced the tragic shooting that took place at Pulse NightClub in Orlando, noting that LGBTQ+ history and its impact should be taught in schools, adding “This bill is not ok.”

“This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida. Forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at the Trevor Project, Sam Ames. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

The Trevor Project conducted research that found that students who have had LGBTQ+ education are 23% less likely to attempt suicide, proving the positive impacts of this education on queer youth.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill will be deliberated on the House floor at the next stage of proceedings.

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