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House committee approves ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida: Bill would restrict classroom discussion of LGBT+ issues

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Dylan Olive

The Florida House Education & Employment Committee passed “CS/HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education,” a bill that limits discussion about sexual orientation and bans any topics regarding the LGBTQ+ community inside of classrooms.

The recent passing of “CS/HB 1557” has caused an outrage on social media, and rightly so. 

This bill is not only removing LGBTQ+ history and any chance for discussion, it gives schools the right to “out” students without their consent.

“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” the CS/HB 1557 bill says. 

The bill will seek “parental notification and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.” 

If this bill gets passed by the full House and Florida Senate, this is going to be a huge step back for students. 

Many students struggle with their own sexual orientation and identity which is a major loss of LGBTQ+ community history that schools should be teaching. 

If anything, there should be even more discussion and awareness in classrooms about sexual identity, so it is a shame that this bill is even floating around the House right now.

Schools surely don’t teach enough history surrounding LGBTQ+  topics, or historical figures who were a part of the community.

“I think that it’s based on very harmful and backward stereotypes of queer people, saying children are ‘too young’ to learn about sexuality is usually based on the idea that queerness is inherently sexual,” junior Ariana Perera said. “There are kids that already know they’re queer and this would isolate them and cause more opportunity for harassment.”

School is supposed to be a safe space for children. This bill will make young LGBTQ+ individuals feel scared by not being able to talk about their sexuality and having to hide a part of themselves.

Some will feel ashamed because no one is even mentioning anything LGBTQ+ related, so they will think it’s not normal or okay to be that way. 

Everyone should be represented, whether that be by sexuality, race or gender. It is not okay to exclude an entire community from education.

“We have to create a learning environment where they feel safe and healthy, or it’s not an effective learning environment,” Heather Wilkie, a member of a Central Florida LGBTQ advocacy group, Zebra Coalition, said. “When you have laws like this, that directly attack our kids for who they are, it prevents them from learning.”

Schools already don’t teach enough history surrounding LGBTQ+  topics, moments or important figures who were a part of the community.

If they did, students would feel more comfortable in school and gain a better understanding of sexuality, culture, oppression and, most importantly, themselves.

“There are many historic figures whose queerness has been cut from the narrative to make them more palatable,” Perera said. 

Because of how deranged “CS/HB 1557” is, there is very little chance of it becoming an official law in Florida.

The fact that it is even being surfaced through the Florida House of Representatives is alarming enough, and hopefully will be dismantled soon.

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