WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY KWYN TOWNSEND RILEY
What You Need to Know:
A Florida Senate committee on Monday passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, known to its critics as “Don’t Say Gay,” by a vote of 12 to 8. The controversial legislation now moves to the Senate floor.
According to the bill, educators will not be allowed to speak to primary school students about certainLGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.
House Bill 1557 states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3.”
Supporters of the bill, which appears to be headed toward passage, say its provisions have been distorted by partisan messaging. They argue parents should have control over what students learn at school. They support the measure because it would allow parents to be apprised of any major changes in a student’s health or well-being — including if they begin to express a sexual or gender identity they may not feel comfortable expressing at home.
Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people, told CNN, “Making LGBTQ students scared to discuss their identities, their community or their families at school is as cruel as it is dangerous.”
Why You Need to Know:
There are currently more than 100 anti-LGBTQ bills, the majority of which target transgender and nonbinary youth, moving through state legislatures across the country, according to the ACLU.
This bill is one of the most extreme examples. If this bill is passed, it would effectively erase entire chapters of history, literature, and critical health information in schools and silence LGBTQ students and those with LGBTQ parents or family members.
Currently, 42% of LGBTQ youth, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to a national survey conducted by the Trevor Project. Fostering an affirming school environment is more critical than ever.