Florida has passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, as it comes one step closer to becoming law. While the LGBTQ community has come a long way to make sure they have equal rights and opportunities, there is still some progress to be made. This is an important conversation, as more youth are opening up about who they are and feel confident in speaking their truth. This has been shown to be beneficial for their mental health and wellbeing, and some experts think that this should be encouraged. School is where our youths spend a lot of their time, and it should be an environment that they feel safe in, and where they feel like they can be themselves.According to USA Today and NBC News, Florida lawmakers have now passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, and it has been sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for a signature to make it an official law. This bill will restrict public school classrooms on talks about sexual orientation and gender identity. The official name of the legislation is “Parental Rights in Education,” and if it is made law, it will come into effect on July 1st, 2022.The bill was voted in by a 22-17 vote and the details of it are as follows. If it is made into law, it will prohibit school teachers from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten to Grade 3, however, it is not presently taught in those grades. When it comes to older grades, any instruction will have to be “age-appropriate.”There is some gray area in the bill, and while it prohibits instruction, it is not clear if this includes class discussions, but the supporters of the bill have said that they would not prevent that.
This bill also ensures that the school speaks to parents about a student’s mental, emotional, and/or physical health and allows parents the right to sue the school district if it violates this. When it comes to some criticisms of this bill, a few experts had weighed in on their experience. They stated that there is some concern that this bill will add to the stigma that is already surrounding the LGBTQ community, especially in the youth community.
Those who support the bill state that this will allow parents to be the ones in charge of a child’s education and development. This encourages teachers to tell students who have questions that this is something that they should go home and talk to their parents about.