The Florida Board of Education has voted to expand “The Parental Rights in Education Bill” (CS/CS/HB 1557), also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to extend to all grades, kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The bill “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” Failing to comply with this law could cause teachers to lose their licenses and schools to be the subject of lawsuits from parents.
Responses are coming in from activists and organizations, condemning the bill and emphasizing how it will only serve to harm LGBTQ+ students and teachers.
Student activist Jack Petocz, the mobilization coordinator for Gen Z for Change tweeted, “This was NEVER about protecting your children. It’s all an elaborate plan to ERASE people like me from existence.”
The Human Rights Campaign shared, “Erasing queer history and content doesn’t “protect” anyone — it tells LGBTQ+ people that our existence doesn’t matter.”
Equality Florida, which recently put out an alert against traveling to Florida for LGBTQ+ people, tweeted, “The lust for government censorship is insatiable.”
The ACLU of Florida has this to say on Twitter. “It was never about schoolchildren. It is about erasure of LGBTQ+ people, their families, and their existence in Florida public schools. It is about erasure of the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ youth. It is about erasure, but we can’t be erased.”
GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers released the following statement.
“The decision by the Florida Board of Education to extend curriculum bans through twelfth grade is disgraceful — and it will result in catastrophic consequences for Florida students and supportive educators. Curriculum bans deprive LGBTQ+ youth of the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the classroom and their non-LGBTQ+ peers from learning about LGBTQ+ communities.
“Based on more than 20 years of research conducted by GLSEN, LGBTQ+ youth who attend schools with inclusive curriculum have higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging, are more likely to pursue post-secondary education, along with many other benefits that promote long-term wellbeing and achievement. We will continue to fight for positive representation and visibility of LGBTQ+ communities in all schools across the country and stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ youth in Florida.”
News is Out will continue to update this article with responses as they become available.