Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a measure that will ban elementary school teachers from mentioning LGBTQ people in class.
DeSantis signed H.B. 1557 at the Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill, Florida today, flanked by children in school uniforms. Other kids stood behind him holding signs that said “PROTECT CHILDREN/SUPPORT PARENTS,” implying that children need protection from learning about the existence of LGBTQ people.
At least the kids forming the background of the photo-op had a pin with the letters “CRT” crossed out, referring to critical race theory.
“The last couple of years have really revealed to parents that they are being ignored increasingly across our country when it comes to their kids’ education,” DeSantis said before he signed the bill. “We have seen curriculum embedded for very very young children, classroom materials about sexuality and woke gender ideology. We’ve seen libraries that have clearly inappropriate, pornographic materials for very young kids.”
While Republicans have been railing about pornography in school libraries for months, they have not found any school with actual pornography in its library.
H.B. 1557 has been condemned by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, who called it a “hateful bill.” Advocates of LGBTQ equality argued that banning certain kinds of families from being discussed in school would increase stigma against kids who come from those families and LGBTQ students.
Moreover, advocates argue that certain parts of the bill will require schools to out LGBTQ students to their parents.
“LGBTQ youth in Florida deserve better. They deserve to see their history, their families, and themselves reflected in the classroom,” said the Trevor Project’s Amit Paley. “While I am saddened to see this harmful bill signed into law, I am inspired by the outpouring of support for LGBTQ students we have seen from parents, teachers, celebrities, and their peers. Social support is vital for suicide prevention, and I want to remind LGBTQ youth in Florida and across the country that you are not alone.”
LGBTQ advocates like Chasten Buttigieg have pointed out that LGBTQ teens are at a heightened risk of suicide and the bill would cut them off from help from their teachers. Out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said that his children could be prevented from talking about their parents if they lived in a state with such a bill.
“Chasten, my husband, pointed out that if our kids some day – some Monday morning come into class, you know, and kids are sitting around and the teacher’s got the morning circle talking about how everybody’s weekends went, and one of them says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dads,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘No, we don’t talk about that here’?” Pete Buttigieg said on CNN last month.
In a statement, Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried (D) called this “a sad day in Florida.”
“When the Governor DeSantis and our Republican Legislature try to edit and censor our teachers, no good can come from it. It only serves to have a chilling effect on our schools, and hurts our students and teachers,” Fried said.
“To the LGBTQ+ community of Florida, particularly the young people, let me say this: we acknowledge you, we see you, and we love you. Don’t give up.”