Florida House passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill silencing LGBTQ+ Youth

On Thursday, February 24 the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would forbid any discussions regarding sexual orientation or gender identity within the classrooms of any primary schools.
“Creating boundaries at an early age of what is appropriate in our schools, when we are funding our schools, is not hate,” Member of the Florida House of Representatives Republican Joe Harding said in an article written by NBC News.
The bill that has been nicknamed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by critics and members of the LGBTQ+ community fear that the bill will hinder the growth of LGBTQ+ students.
“We have to create a learning environment where they feel safe and healthy, or it’s not an effective learning environment,” Heather Wilkie of the Zebra Coalition, a Central Florida LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said in an ABC News article.
The legislation that was passed through a vote of 69-47 forbids any teaching of Sexuality or Gender Identity.
“We are in distress because this bill is yet another attack on our community,” republican Carlos Guillermo Smith said in a speech on the house floor said. “This bill goes way beyond the text on its page. It 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.”
The grades of Kindergarten through third grade are the ones prohibited from discussion of these points.
“The bill is sending a message to LGBTQ youth that they have something to be ashamed about, that their identities are so taboo that they shouldn’t even be talked about in classrooms,” a senior at Olympia High School in Orlando Delaney Ocock told CBS News. “In a world that already shames LGBTQ people enough, children who are learning and developing who they are don’t need any more of that stigma.”
In a survey taken by The Trevor Project, a mental health support organization for LGBTQ+ youth, 71 percent of LGBTQ+ youth feel discriminated against due to their sexuality or gender identity.
“Lawmakers should be expanding support systems for LGBTQ Youth aging teachers to create a safe, inclusive learning environment, not fueling stigma and shame,” Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of The Trevor Project Amit Paley said in a tweet.
The Biden Administration has also weighed in on the matter shaming the members of the house for voting on this bill.
In a tweet, President Joe Biden wrote on February 8, “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
The White House also tweeted out a rebuttal to the bill.
“Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most – LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves,” the statement said. “But make no mistake – this is not an isolated action. Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be.”