WASHINGTON — Today the Republican-controlled Florida Senate passed a hateful and extremely harmful bill that will ban discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill will allow parents to sue their child’s school if discussions on LGBTQ topics occur, deterring teachers and counselors from being a safe and confidential resource for students and ostracizing children with LGBTQ families. This legislation will likely intensify the LGBTQ youth suicide epidemic given that a recent report from the Trevor Project found that learning about LGBTQ people and issues in school was a successful suicide prevention tool.
“LGBTQ kids are already at a higher risk for bullying, suicide, and homelessness and now Florida Republicans are attempting to force them back into the closet through shame and isolation,” said DLCC executive director Heather Williams. “School should be a safe space for kids to learn and grow, but instead Republicans are whitewashing American history, normalizing school shootings, and banning talking about who we are and who we love. Democrats are standing with parents and students to fight against this intolerance. Legislators should be protecting the fundamental rights of LGBTQ Americans in classrooms, not restricting them.”
An amendment to replace “sexual orientation or gender identity” with “human sexuality or sexual activity” was not included, making clear this bill is specifically about targeting the LGBTQ community, not protecting children from explicit materials. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill now heads to Governor DeSantis’ desk for signature and is widely expected to become law given that he has already signaled his support for the legislation.
Republican state lawmakers have already introduced more than 170 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, surpassing last year’s record-breaking total of 139 anti-LGBTQ measures. The vast majority of Americans, including the majority of Republicans and white evangelical Protestants, support LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, proving that Florida Republicans are even out-of-touch with their own base.