Two bills making their way through the Florida state legislature would prevent educators from addressing topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
Senate Bill 1834 and House Bill 1557, referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bills, would provide parents with greater input into their children’s education, and also limit or prohibit discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. SB 1834, which was introduced last week, would “[prohibit] a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner.”
HB 1557, which passed through the Education & Employment Committee on Tuesday, would “[prohibit] a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner.” It also allows parents to bring action against any school that violates this law.
Proponents of the bills argue that they are about protecting the rights of parents to know what their children are learning in schools. Opponents argue that they will instead stigmatize LGBTQ+ students by presenting queerness or homosexuality as things to be ashamed of.
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, who recently became the first Black and non-binary executive director of the educational advocacy group GLSEN, said that passage of such legislation “would erase LGBTQ+ history and culture from lesson plans and it sends a chilling message to LGBTQ+ young people and communities,” ABC reports.
They added, “These mandates are harmful and risk carelessly outing LGBTQ+ young people to families who do not affirm their children’s identities.”