Florida governor, Ron DeSantis recently signed the “Parental Rights in Education”, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics of the bill.
The bill states: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
While the bill does not directly state that teachers can’t say “gay” in classrooms, it is vague on purpose. The Florida legislation does not want to make it seem like they are discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community, but that is exactly what the bill is doing.
Similar legislation has been passed in other Republican states banning critical race theory from being discussed in classrooms because the parents want more control as to what their children are learning in their schools.
Other Republican states are now following Florida and drafting up their own similar legislation to prevent topics of sexual orientation from being discussed in school because they believe they are protecting children, but in reality, the bill is extremely harmful to them.
Many people in more conservative communities believe they can prevent their children from being gay, lesbian, trans, or non-binary by forcing certain gender stereotypes onto them, as well as exposing them to “heterosexual norms” that are typically shown in children’s media. This is already a harmful narrative because it is commonly known that sexual orientation is not a choice, it’s a part of who you are.
Some parents have perceived that homosexuality is unnatural and have reiterated these ideas onto their children. Hearing negative statements like this about homosexuality can be extremely harmful to children as they get older. Once they realize their true sexual orientation, they will have all of these predisposed notions in their heads and they’ll have to suppress who they truly are.
These bills being passed and drafted across the country essentially want to revert to the older ways society used to be and how the LGBTQ+ community was seen. Same-sex marriage was only legalized in this country in 2015 and since then, people of the LGBTQ+ community have been able to proudly be as they are.
People in the LGBTQ+ community already face a lot of discrimination and hate, and these bills will just add to it and make it worse. Members of the community already live in a constant state of fear and now future members will feel the same way.
This bill has already faced a tremendous amount of backlash from members of the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters, including members of the current administration in the White House. As more bills like this one are drafted in more and more states, it makes me more fearful for the future generations of the LGBTQ+ community in this country.
Parents may think they are protecting their children, but in reality, they are just repressing their true selves and showing them that it is not okay to be the way they are, which is extremely counterproductive in terms of individual freedoms.