On March 8, Florida’s Senate passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a title that has caused an uproar of backlash from LGBTQ+ rights activists and allies.
In essence, the bill bans Florida’s public schools from incorporating any discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation into the classroom until after third grade. Supporters of this bill argue that it is inappropriate for young children to learn about sexuality and gender.
However, the underlying message in this argument is riddled with homophobic and transphobic ideologies. First of all, the notion that sexuality is by definition sexual is false. Sexuality can be numerous things, but for young children, sexuality is related to romantic attractions such as crushes. To omit any resources or discussions for young queer children is irresponsible, as it fosters ignorance among their peers and shame in themselves. Second of all, the ban of any gender identity conversations in the classroom is hypocritical, since schools commonly use language upholding the gender binary but feel as though it is crossing a line to be inclusive of those who are not cisgender. Classroom discussions are some of the only places where conversations regarding gender and sexuality can be informative and safe. However, Florida’s senate has purposely decided to take that away from Florida’s children.
The underlying agenda of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is to discourage acceptance, which is achieved when education resources are taken away, leaving Florida’s children ignorant.