Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the proposal restricting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s a dark day for LGBTQ+ people in Florida and around the world today as the state’s Republican-controlled Senate has passed the controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, by a vote of 22-17.
It will now head to the desk of Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once that happens, the bill would come into effect from 1 July.
Amongst other things, the bill will ban “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.
Furthermore, parents will be able to sue districts over any violations.
The bill also encourages school staff to out LGBT+ students to their parents, directing that caregivers must be informed of any information about a “student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being”, including their sexuality or gender identity, making an exception only if “that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment or neglect.”
Executive director of The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention charity of LGBT+ youth, Amit Paley said in a statement: “Every LGBTQ young person deserves to attend a school that provides an inclusive, affirmative environment – not one that aims to erase their existence.
“We know that LGBTQ youth already face higher risk for bullying, depression, and suicide – and this bill will only add to the stigma that fuels these disparities. But it is not too late to stop it from becoming law. The Trevor Project urges Florida’s governor to reject this bill and, instead, support efforts that protect LGBTQ youth across the state.”
Senator Shevrin Jones, the first openly LGBTQ+ Black person elected to Florida Legislature, called the bill “another stain in the history of Florida.”
Shortly after the measure passed the statehouse, the US secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, issued a statement that read: “Leaders in Florida are prioritizing hateful bills that hurt some of the students most in need.
“The US Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are protected and supported.”
In February, President Biden tweeted: “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,”
“I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
The bill’s fate is now with DeSantis, who has signalled his support for its implication several times, most recently when being questioned by a reporter on Monday.
“We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum,” he said.
A sad day indeed.
"I believe this will be another stain in the history of Florida,'' said @ShevrinJones about the "Parental Rights in Education" aka "Don't Say Gay" bill which the Florida Senate is about to pass. "This is hurting people."— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) March 8, 2022
‘Don’t Say Gay’ has passed the Senate, but the fight is not over. All our love to fighters like @CarlosGSmith @RepMKRG and @ShevrinJones who shared their truths to try to stop this bad bill. pic.twitter.com/SNAUU2sx2P— Florida House Democrats (@FLHouseDems) March 8, 2022
The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill has passed the Florida Legislature and is heading to @GovRonDeSantis’ desk — I’m urging the governor to veto this dangerous bill that’ll directly harm our LGBTQ+ youth.— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) March 8, 2022
Florida is better than this. pic.twitter.com/LwvqPxgFAF
The Don’t Say Gay bill has officially passed both chambers of the Florida legislature.— Val Demings (@valdemings) March 8, 2022
This is a dark day for Florida, but to our LGBTQ+ community: I will never tire in the fight to protect your right to exist and to be your authentic selves. https://t.co/DpOc4aOwQi
Today is a sad day for the people of Florida, and a horrific step backwards in the fight for #LGBTQ+ equality. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is discriminatory and homophobic, and our students deserve better. Period. https://t.co/Y76OjuOeh6— Rep. Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) March 8, 2022