Florida governor signs ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law

The State’s Senate voted to enact the legislative change earlier this month, with 22 members in favour and 17 against.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis signs the 'Don't Say Gay' bill into law.
Image: Twitter: @GovRonDeSantis

On Monday, March 28, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law. The legislation officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill has been widely criticised for being anti-LGBTQ+ as it restricts “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten up to third grade.

The bill also mandates that staff members out queer youth to their families, as they are required to notify parents of any change to a “student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being”.

The Republican politician completed the final step in introducing the measure in a staged ceremony surrounded by a group of school children, some of whom held signs reading, “Protect children, support parents”.

Speaking ahead of the event, DeSantis stated that those who oppose the bill “support sexualising kids in kindergarten”, “support injecting woke gender ideology into second-grade classrooms”, and “support enabling schools to transition students to a different gender without the knowledge of the parent, much less without the parent’s consent”.

He added that teaching students that “they can be whatever they want to be” is “inappropriate”.

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was passed by the Florida Senate earlier this month, by a vote of 22-17. LGBTQ+ activists and allies alike have widely condemned the legislation, fearing that it will censor discussions and teachings on queer identities and issues for young people. There is also concern regarding the fact that parents will now be able to sue school officials and teachers over violations of these rules.

Speaking yesterday, CEO of The Trevor Project, Amit Paley, said: “LGBTQ youth in Florida deserve better. They deserve to see their history, their families, and themselves reflected in the classroom.

“While I am saddened to see this harmful bill signed into law, I am inspired by the outpouring of support LGBTQ students we have seen from parents, teachers, celebrities, and their peers,” Paley added.

“Social support is vital for suicide prevention, and I want to remind LGBTQ youth in Florida and across the country that you are not alone.”

After being signed by the Florida governor today, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will officially come into effect on July 1, 2022. Similar legislation is also being proposed in roughly 15 other US states.

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