Gay hiking

Students and teachers unite against DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill has passed the Florida Senate and is now on its way to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office where he has promised to sign it into law.

The bill, which is due to take effect July 1, prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. It also prohibits lessons in other classes unless they are arbitrarily determined to be “age-appropriate”.

This bill is part of a broader right-wing offensive across the country and in Florida in particular, attacking reproductive rights and the right to protest, enacting racist voting restrictions, and banning trans children from care and support. gender-affirming school sports. The attacks will not stop there. We need a mass movement to defend LGBTQ rights and fight the right.

A nationwide wave of anti-LGBTQ attacks

Texas Governor Greg Abbot recently wrote a letter calling on the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender-affirming care for children as “child abuse. Iowa recently became the eleventh state since the start of 2021 to pass a bill banning trans children from participating in school sports. Arkansas passed a total ban on gender-affirming care for children last year, and this year 17 states introduced bills that would restrict health care for transgender youth.

The plight of working-class queer and trans people is not limited to attacks on the mansions of governors and state legislatures. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States. Gender-affirming care is unaffordable, and LGBTQ people have higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.

Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Funded by Big Business

DeSantis and the sponsors of this bill have received considerable funding from many so-called “LGBTQ friendly” companies, including AT&T, UnitedHealth Group, Disney, Comcast/NBC Universal, Duke Energy, and Walgreens. All of these companies scored perfect marks on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index. Walgreens, which donated a total of $28,000 in campaign cash to Governor DeSantis and Florida lawmakers who pushed the bill, changed its logo to rainbow colors in June last for pride month. Disney has again been criticized for its hypocritical statements in support of LGBTQ rights. They’ve donated nearly $300,000 to supporters of the Don’t Say Gay Bill in the past two years alone. CEO Bob Chapek refused to condemn the bill until he was faced with growing outrage from Disney workers.

In addition to being part of the broader right-wing attempt to undermine teachers’ efforts to teach a progressive curriculum, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is part of a broader effort to undermine public education. by allowing individual parents to sue schools for damages. , potentially bankrupting an already starving public school system. Big business and the right would prefer that all education in Florida be open to privatization.

We can’t rely on the courts or the Democratic Party

Currently, Democrats control the presidency in addition to both houses of Congress, but so far their support for the equality law has been limited to platitudes. They did not make abortion rights the “law of the land,” as Biden promised on the campaign trail. In response to the Texas abortion ban last year, the Biden administration simply referred the matter to the courts.

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will likely face legal challenges, but absent a mass movement to defend LGBTQ rights, the chilling effect it would have on classrooms would stay. The courts alone will not provide LGBTQ youth with real victories such as school counselor funding, reproductive rights, free college, and free trans health care through trans-inclusive Medicare for All.

We need a mass movement

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill sparks outrage and young people have begun to fight back. Students and educators staged walkouts across the state, including a walkout of more than 500 students at Winter Park High School.

These school-based actions are an essential element in defeating this right-wing onslaught. Teachers’ unions should urgently organize their members against this attack on their rights in the classroom. They should call for a day of action against the bill and work with students to organize walkouts. The broader labor movement should oppose this bill not just as an attack on teachers’ rights in the classroom, but as an attack on LGBTQ teachers and students as a whole.

The right, in an attempt to mobilize its base, redoubles its attacks against homosexual youth. This is an offensive with deadly consequences that must be fought fiercely. We need a multi-racial, multi-gender mass movement of workers and students to defend LGBTQ rights. We must link the LGBTQ rights movement with the fight for reproductive rights to fight for free, safe, and legal abortion through trans-inclusive Medicare for All. And finally we need a mass movement to fight against the capitalist system itself. Ultimately, a true end to homophobia and transphobia will only come with the complete socialist transformation of society.