Image Credit NBC News
House Bill 1557 has been gaining traction and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Rep) signed the controversial bill dubbed, ‘Don’t Say Gay’ into law Monday, March 28th.
The “Parental Rights in Education” bill bans public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation. It reads, “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.”
Supporters of the legislation argue the aim of the bill is to “allow parents to determine when and in what way to introduce LGBTQ topics to their children”. It also gives parents the option to sue the school district if educators violate the law outlined in the bill.
During a press conference ahead of signing the law DeSantis said holding discussions and instruction surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity is “not something that’s appropriate for any place, but especially not in Florida.” He went on to add that teaching kindergarten aged children that “they can be whatever they want to be“ was “inappropriate”
Leading up to the bill’s signing, critics, including the Walt Disney Company, called out Florida lawmakers for the legislation. A spokesperson said in a statement that the Company hopes the law is repealed or struck down in court.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
DeSantis stood defiant in the face of critics, “I don’t care what Hollywood says. I don’t care what big corporations say. Here I stand. I am not backing down.” The law takes effect July 1st.
Studies have shown that LGBTQ youth already face a higher health and suicide risks than cisgendered or straight youth. When those kids are given access to safe spaces that affirm their gender identity there are lower reports of suicide attempts, according to the Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. An excellent resource, the organization offers support by professional counselors. Anyone finding themselves struggling or needing help navigating this difficult time can contact the organization 24/7 via chat, phone call, or text.