Gay hiking

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Passes Florida State Senate

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After weeks of controversy, including a possible condemnation by the Walt Disney Company, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill has been signed into law. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill Monday, March 28, surrounded by school children. “We will ensure that parents can send their children to school to receive education, not indoctrination,” he said at the signing.

DeSantis also appeared to address Disney, which recently took a public stand against the bill after weeks of employees demanding action led to a company-wide strike. Although DeSantis didn’t name the company, he called out “people in Hollywood who oppose parental protections and enforcement of parental rights.” He continued: “If the people who held up degenerates like Harvey Weinstein as role models and heroes, if those are the types of people and all that oppose us on parental rights, I wear that as a badge of honor.”

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was originally passed by the state legislature on March 8, in a vote of 22 to 17. Officially called the “Parental Rights in education, the law prohibits teachers from any “in-class instruction” about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade. However, critics fear that the wording of the bill will essentially have the effect of preventing teachers at all levels from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity, hence the nickname. The wording of the most recent version of the bill, uploaded March 8, specifically prohibits “school instructors or third parties” from teaching anything about kindergarten sexual orientation or gender identity. in the third year” or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

The bill also includes a provision that allows parents to sue school districts if they believe an issue has not been resolved to their satisfaction regarding this law, raising the question of who gets to decide what is “age appropriate” for students and what kind of any discussion or instruction about LGBTQIA+ history and issues will be safe from prosecution. University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky, who has researched similar laws in Utah, told the AP in January that Florida’s bill “has a greater discriminatory effect and a greater deterrent effect, because it is up to each parent to uphold the law”.

Advocates of the bill, like DeSantis, have tried to push back against the “don’t say gay” label, insisting that the bill doesn’t directly ban the word “gay” from the classroom. “When you actually look at the bill, and it says ‘no sexual instruction to children in kindergarten through third grade’, how many parents want their kids to be transgender or something injected into education in classroom?” he said at a press conference on March 5. The bill would allow students to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in class, as long as it’s not part of an established curriculum, though it’s hard to see how that would work In practice.

The law would come into force on July 1, 2022, but many have already pledged to fight it. President Biden released a statement on Twitter pledging to “continue to fight for the dignity and opportunity of every student and family – in Florida and across the country.” the Walt Disney Company also released a statement, pledging to support a repeal of the law on March 28, saying in part: “Our goal as a company is to have this law repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts, and we remain committed to supporting national and state organizations working to achieve this.

Meanwhile, anti-LGBTQ laws continue to gain momentum across the country. Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to declare gender-affirming medical care “child abuse” is in full swing, and The Daily Beast has reported that there are 200 other anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures. states this year.