A bill that would ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida school classrooms is a step closer to becoming law.
On Tuesday, the Florida Senate Education Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 1834, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would restrict topics regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in primary schools, and would allow parents to sue schools that do not comply.
A similar bill, HB 1557, passed in the Florida House Education & Employment Committee at the end of January.
Proponents of the legislation have argued that the bill would protect parents’ with regards to their children’s upbringing and education. Opponents argue that such legislation will only further stigmatize LGBTQ+ children, and cut them off from the support they need.
“Banning speech about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms would not only be an infringement on civil rights,” said Sam Ames of the Trevor Project in a statement. “[I]t would erase entire chapters of history, classic literature, and critical health information from textbooks, to say nothing of erasing students themselves.”
Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis has voiced support for the bill, telling reporters on Monday that it is “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to have conversations with students regarding sexual and gender identities.
Following DeSantis’ comments, President Biden posted a statement on Twitter expressing support for LGBTQ+ students. “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” the statement read. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve. https://t.co/OcAIMeVpHL
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 8, 2022
The bill will go through two more Senate committees before going to a vote in the House. If passed, it could go into effect this summer.