Florida's "Don't Say Gay" Bill Passes House, Prohibits Class Discussions About Sexual Orientation
Florida's House of Representatives officially passed the Parental Rights in Education bill“, critically known as the “Dont Say Gay” bill today, Thursday (Feb. 24).
The bill will prohibit "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity" in the state’s primary schools, according to NBC News.
The 69-47 vote came after an emotional debate on Florida’s house floor and will now head to the state's Republican-held Senate, where it is expected to pass.
According to NBC News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is running for re-election and is widely considered to be a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has previously signaled his support for the legislation and is expected to sign it into law.
Florida House floor, Rep. Joe Harding, the Republican who introduced the bill, said the measure is about "empowering parents" and improving the quality of life for the state's children.
"Creating boundaries at an early age of what is appropriate in our schools, when we are funding our schools, is not hate," Harding said.
"It’s actually providing boundaries, and it’s fair to our teachers and our school districts to know what we expect."
Critics have said that the broad language of the legislation could open districts to lawsuits from parents who believe any conversation about LGBTQ people or issues to be inappropriate, according to NBC News.
In 2017, high school students who identified as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) were twice as likely as their straight peers to report feeling sad or hopeless—and four times as likely to have attempted suicide, according to Child Trends - the nation’s leading research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives of children and youth.
The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey data 23 percent of LGB high schoolers attempted suicide, compared with 5 percent of their straight peers. The survey asked students whether “heterosexual (straight),” “bisexual,” “gay or lesbian,” or “not sure” best described them; it did not ask whether youth identified as transgender.
With Florida's new bill, discussions regarding sexual orientation would ultimately discriminate against and silence LGBT students from expressing their feelings to overcome challenges in regards to their sexual orientation and identity.
Gaye will continue to follow this story as it develops.