New bill passed in Florida sends the wrong message to everybody

“Don’t Say Gay” bill is a big step backwards.


Elena Casey

SHS students and a community member pose for a photo at the “We Say Gay” rally in front of the Monroe County Courthouse.

Sophie Howard, Staff Writer

Picture this: You’re in first grade. You’re in a classroom drawing a family picture to present to your class which will be put on display in the hall. You get up to show the class the masterpiece you’ve created, but your teacher will not allow you to do so because you have two dads.

You are confused. You watch the other kids show off their families and wonder why you can’t do the same. Your teacher is not allowed to discuss the topic because it would put his or her job at risk.

Now think about this happening in real life: enter the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Florida’s House Bill 1557, Parental Rights in Education— known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, or in older grades in “a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” (Nierenberg, Amelia. “What Does ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Actually Say?: A close read of the controversial Florida bill.” New York Times, March 23, 2022).

One might wonder what is included in the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Simply put, school districts are now being required to ban the teaching of LGBTQ+ history lessons and the topic of discussion in classrooms. The school district will be required not to encourage the topic of sexual orientation and who identify in a way that is not “age-appropriate” for students. 

This bill is primarily targeting K-3 students in school by closing off LGBTQ+ education, which may result in students being bullied for who they are. This is setting an alarming precedent for future laws that may be homophobic in nature.

On March 8, 2022, the Florida House of Representatives passed this bill stating that they would discontinue “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” This was alarming to the LGBTQ+ community. The Senate of Florida voted on Tuesday in favor of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

What does the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill mean for LGBTQ+ students? This bill will teach LGBTQ+ kids that they should be ashamed and embarrassed by their own identities. What happened to schools encouraging students to be proud of who they are?

This development will increase rates of bullying against LGBTQ+ students. As if people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer aren’t targeted enough, this bill will further isolate those students and promote more bullying which can lead to serious mental health issues including self-hate, suicide, and much more. 

“Results from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show that, nationwide, more U.S. high school students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) report having been bullied on school property (32%) and cyberbullied (26.6%) in the past year than their straight peers (17.1% and 14.1%, respectively),” (“LGBTQ+ Youth.”, September 10, 2021.).

This bill is a huge concern to senior Nathaniel Salazar, who believes it is important to “open the school’s mindset to other sexualities and everyday things people go through.”

Schools will be turned into unsafe places for the LGBTQ+ community. Many students are not able to express who they are and who they identify as in their own homes. They rely on the school to be a safe environment to express who they are.

This bill is taking that away from them. The lives of the LGBTQ+ community are in danger. Youngsters who may come from an unaccepting household may lead to dangerous situations that can take place at home.

Chasten Buttigieg, an American writer, teacher, and LGBTQ rights advocate tweeted beautifully about the dangers of this bill.

“This will kill kids @RonDeSantisFl. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can’t talk to their teachers?”

It brings more inclusivity into the school and makes it more accepting and maybe more possible for more trans students to feel comfortable.

— Morgan Depete-McMahon

Banning communication from students to teachers is making students feel like they can’t talk to anyone. 

Many schools across the country have been supportive of students regarding their sexual orientation. In fact, some schools have created clubs for the LGBTQ community. These clubs give the LGBTQ community a place where the students can feel safe and meet new people, without being judged.

Furthermore, if kids are uncomfortable speaking with their parents and family at home, they look for guidance at school. LGBTQ+ education should not be denied to these people. Otherwise, they will lose a safe place to join, and others will not get educated about the different peoples that exist in our society. 

SHS has its own Gay-Straight Alliance Club club (GSA) where students can bond and express themselves in a safe environment. The adviser of this club is SHS science teacher Ms. Cheri West. The club is active and thriving.

One member, junior Morgan DePete-McMahon, expressed the value of the club.

“It brings more inclusivity into the school and makes it more accepting and maybe more possible for more trans students to feel comfortable,” said DePete-McMahon.

The people supporting the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill are simply living in the past. It is the 21st century, and people should educate themselves on the changes in society.

Today, people are overwhelmingly supportive of celebrating others for who they are. Generation Z and Millennials are setting a good example by supporting each individual’s choices.

This bill sends a message of intolerance toward people and is really out of sync with society.

For example, not only are schools and small communities fighting for the right of gays, but bigger corporations such as The Walt Disney Company employees also had a walkout to stand up for and stand against the controversial new bill.

“Disney employees staged a walkout Tuesday in protest of the company’s response to Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education law. Many other large corporations around the U.S. are standing up for what they believe in and making it known that this needs to be addressed and brought to more people’s attention,” (Pallotta, Frank. “Disney employees walk out, as ESPN and Disney+ back LGBTQ+ rights.” CNN Business, March 22, 2022.).

Historically, the word gay has had all sorts of negative connotations. This bill is certainly not helping make things better. People seriously need to educate themselves, especially since more and more younger people and adults are coming out about their sexual orientation.

To deny that gay exists is a bad idea. Refusing to allow the topic to be addressed in schools is a short-sighted attempt to deny certain people’s rights. This bill will actually give certain parents the right to take legal action against schools where gender and sexual orientation are addressed.

Everybody should be aware of this bill.  People should share it, discuss it, and educate themselves about it.  The more aware people are, the more they can be open to gay — not kill it.

For more information, view these two links: