The Florida House Committee has passed an archaic bill banning teachers from discussing the LGBTQ+ community.
According to reports, lawmakers passed the legislation – which is informally known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – on 20 January.
Under HB 1557, teachers and administrators would be banned from discussing “LGBT topics” within the school’s curriculum.
The bill also limits LGBTQ+ resources and allows school officials the right to “out” students to their parents without consent.
Shortly after the bill passed, Equality Florida press secretary Brandon J Wolf condemned the decision in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade.
“Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces,” he said.
Florida’s first LGBTQ+ Latino lawmaker, Carlos G Smith, echoed similar sentiments in a tearful video to social media.
“We should and we are encouraging these types of conversations in our schools. The impact that it has had on the surrounding community, on the surviving family members. This is not a taboo discussion,” he said.
“We will not be erased. LGBTQ families will not be invisible. LGBTQ students will not be invisible. They will be seen, they will be supported, they will be loved.”
According to a report from The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ education has positively impacted queer youth.
🚨’DON’T SAY GAY’ HB 1557 just passed its 1st House committee. It seeks to erase LGBTQ students, families + history from our schools. 🏳️🌈
History like the tragedy at @pulseorlando and its impact.
We SHOULD and we ARE encouraging these convos with our youth. This bill is not ok. pic.twitter.com/jySSG59PdM
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) January 20, 2022
Researchers found that students who learned about the LGBTQ+ community or queer issues had 23% lower odds of attempting suicide.
Sam Ames – the director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project – gave further insight into the bill’s negative effects in a statement.
“This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida. Forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” they said.
“LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”
Florida isn’t the only state to start 2022 by introducing a new round of anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
On 19 January, South Dakota’s senate passed the SB 46 legislation – which bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports.
The state also introduced House Bill 1005, which bans transgender youth from using shared school facilities aligned with their gender identity.
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill will now head to the House floor for deliberation.