Opinion: The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is downright horrific

The bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, will halt all discussion about LGBTQ issues in the classroom.



A students holds a sign at the “Don’t Say Gay” rally in front of Lakewood High on March 3.


The LGBTQ community has been getting a lot more attention recently, or at least more attention than it did decades ago. LGBTQ people are now becoming more mainstream in society, finally beginning to be talked about in a way that isn’t meant to scare people. Though we’d love to say that we are on the road to mainstream acceptance in Florida, it seems that a giant speedbump has grinded it to a halt in the form of 31 words from the new “parental rights in education” bill that just passed in the state Senate and is on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk to be signed.

“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” it says.

There are many things going on here, the first being that schools will not be allowed to talk about people that children may know, may love, or may be raised by. It will be confusing for a child innocently mentioning how she has two moms to be promptly silenced, or if a boy’s older brother used to be a sister. All families are different, all people are different, that’s something we were taught in primary school.

Explaining to a child that two girls and two boys can love each other just like a girl and boy can is not an inappropriate concept for children to understand. This statement gives the assumption that any mentioning of same-sex relationships will divulge into a conversation about sex, almost like that’s how they should be seen.

All children should be given freedom to explore their identities. Of course, this should be done in a safe environment, but it’s important that they are encouraged or allowed to be themselves. If a little boy wants to wear a dress, he should be allowed to. If a girl wants to wear a shirt from the boys’ section, she should be allowed to. Contrary to popular belief, clothes are just worn because that’s what the wearer wants; sometimes there’s no agenda.

One of the biggest reasons the bills’ creators proposed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was so that children aren’t “influenced” or “pressured” to be gay or have questions about gender or their gender – but that was never a problem.

Not only is the idea that one’s sexual/romantic attraction or gender is a choice close-minded and blatantly idiotic, but no teachers or staff are forcing labels upon students, especially young students. In all schools’ students should have the right to identify with labels and use them proudly; some teachers might ask students to share their pronouns later on in middle and high school, but no one is forcing it upon them.

If it’s such an issue that a student could be gay in a parent’s eyes, they’re the one pushing the labels of straight on their child – not the school.

However, in our heteronormative society, labels and expectations are placed on children from birth, whether it be onesies with the words “ladies’ man” printed on the front, the forcing of gendered toys throughout childhood or teasing fifth and sixth graders with opposite gendered friends because “there’s no way they aren’t a couple.” Modern-day is so set on people being straight and identifying with the gender assigned at birth that anything else is seen as abnormal, as a threat.

Schools are already threatening places for many students, spaces where hundreds of kids and teens are allowed to let their prejudiced beliefs run rampant and not be reprimanded for saying slurs or being otherwise discriminatory.

Of course, many teachers do their part and teach more progressive and kind ideologies, but, in the end, they can’t control what’s said in the halls, behind backs, on social media and at home. And those spaces are usually where the discrimination is the worst.

Despite all this, many LGBTQ students often find school is one of the only places they feel safe. Gay- Straight Alliance clubs and after-school curriculars are places where people can be with their community and simply exist without being under the hawk-like gaze of someone who doesn’t support them. This bill jeopardizes those pockets of safety.

In addition, this bill will completely invalidate the oppression we faced alongside our brothers and sisters of color in the civil rights movement in the ’60s and ’70s: events like the Stonewall Riots where black transgender women led us into the fight for our rights, the prejudice especially gay men faced in the AIDS epidemic in receiving medical attention and social equality, the constant and historical underrepresentation of our community in media. So many important steps will be lost and unheard of if we are not allowed to discuss them. We all know what happens when history isn’t remembered…it tends to repeat itself.

This is American history, and these are American people. Whether our existence makes you uncomfortable or not, this bill will not stop people from being gay, this bill won’t protect your children.

It will hurt them.