Florida needs to reconsider the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
February 21, 2022
Florida’s Senate committee passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation last week which banned their school districts from anything related to the LGBTQ+ community in the classroom.
The House Bill under Governor Ron DeSantis, said that Florida schools “may not encourage class 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.”
This is harmful to LGBTQ+ youth as it prohibits a safe and accepting environment to students; Florida must reconsider passing this bill.
President Joe Biden sent out a tweet on Feb. 8 in response to the White House’s announcement on Twitter.
“I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community- especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill- to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” he wrote, “I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
LGBTQ+ youth have it rough as it is – from questioning their identities, to realizing that their feelings are normal and valid and to discovering themselves.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation said that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to struggle with their mental health than non-LGBTQ+ youth. They are four times more likely to suffer from depression and twice as likely to have thoughts of suicide.
Supportive environments at home and school help LGBTQ+ youth thrive and get through obstacles. Not many LGBTQ+ youth have a supportive and/or accepting home as it is- and because of this, are at a higher risk for homelessness.
The Covenant House, a service provider for homeless youth and human trafficking survivors, said that although only seven percent of youth identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ community and they make up 40% of the homeless youth.
Many children turn to their school environment for the support and resources they need because of their lack of support at home.
When you take away their only support system left [at school], you leave these children succumbed to dealing with these struggles by themselves- it can make them feel alone and trapped.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, with LGBTQ+ youth being four times more likely to seriously consider, plan and/or attempt it.
The Trevor Project’s research found that at least one LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S.
They also discovered that LGBTQ+ students who are educated on LGBT issues were 23% less likely to attempt suicide in the past year.
When LGBTQ+ topics are made taboo- as they are with the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, it becomes an internalized stigma and, in turn, negatively impacts one’s mental health.
When we teach our youth about the LGBTQ+ community, we are educating them as we are when we teach the normalized heterosexual ideologies.
Not only this but we foster acceptance among student peers and create a positive and supportive environment.
The LGBTQ+ community and history are not taboo topics. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer are terms [and identities/sexual orientations] we need to normalize in the classroom.
And for the parents thinking it will influence their children’s sexual orientation or identity- it won’t.
Being open to teaching LGBTQ+ history in the classroom and leaving the door open to discussion will simply educate your children and ensure a safe environment for them to ask questions.