Despite significant outrage from Democrats, Republican legislators in Florida are forging ahead with a plan prohibiting schools and teachers from addressing gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom.
The measure, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, would ban any talk of gender identity or sexual orientation in elementary school classrooms up to third grade and further restrict debate at all later grade levels.
The bill’s supporters argue it is vital to safeguard young pupils from age-inappropriate training, while critics argue it is harmful to gay and transgender pupils.
The legislation cleared the Republican-controlled state House on Thursday and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate next week. It is expected to pass as well, despite Democrats’ opposition.
This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can't talk to their teachers? https://t.co/VtfFLPlsn3
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022
Opposition and Assumptions
The bill has been hailed as a critical step toward enhancing parental rights in education by limiting what instructors and schools may incorporate into classroom instruction.
If passed into law, parents would be able to sue instructors for disobeying the bill’s provisions, which mandate school discussions about gay and transgender issues be “age-appropriate,” except in K-3 classes, where such topics would be wholly prohibited.
The bill has garnered widespread national attention and criticism, due to its features. Some claim this will increase gay and transgender adolescents committing suicide in Florida schools.
If teachers are forbidden from addressing sexual and gender orientation with gay and transgender kids, critics argue such students will attempt suicide, due to a lack of an “affirming” space.
Frequently cited is a study conducted by the Trevor Project, a gay and transgender non-profit organization, which discovered “LGBTQ youth who confirmed having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had a 35% lower risk of reporting a suicide attempt.”
Through its official White House Twitter account, the Biden administration stated the law was “intended to harm LGBTQI+ children” and President Biden is “interested in keeping schools open and protecting students’ mental health.”
Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids. Instead of making growing up harder for young people, @POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students' mental health.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 8, 2022
Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said the legislation “will kill children.”
He then accused Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of “intentionally making your state a more difficult place for LGBTQ children to survive.”
Importance and Support
DeSantis expressed his support for the legislation earlier this month, stating it is “completely inappropriate” for educators to discuss gender identification with students.
Florida has seen two recent lawsuits filed by parents against their children’s schools, alleging teachers and officials secretly supported their daughters’ gender changes.
In a recent lawsuit, the parents of a female sixth-grade student at Paterson Elementary School in Fleming Island, near Jacksonville, alleged the school failed to warn them about their daughter’s attempted shift to a male identity until she attempted suicide twice.
Discussions over gay and transgender identity in classrooms have garnered major internet attention as a result of films produced by two conservative-leaning Twitter accounts, Libs of TikTok and Teachers Exposed.
Both accounts often share videos of homosexual and transgender educators bragging about how they disclose their gender and sexual identities to their students, receiving thousands of views.