Florida passes controversial educational bill



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displays the signed Parental Rights in Education, aka the Don’t Say Gay bill, flanked by elementary school students during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Emma LaFisca, Writer

On March 28, 2022 the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay bill.” This bill bans any classroom instructions or lesson on gender identity or sexual orientation in grades kindergarten through the 3rd grade. It also prohibits lessons in other grades that are not “age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.”  Parents are also allowed to decline any emotional, mental, and physical health services available for their children at school and the parents will also be notified if their child uses these services. Parents are also given the option to sue their school district if they believe that the policy has been violated.

According to an ABC News article, “Florida controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: What’s inside the proposed law” states that “more than 6 in 10 Americans oppose legislation” that would prohibit these lessons in classrooms. Legislators against the bill and LGBTQ+ activist say LGBTQ topics are “not inherently sexual, inappropriate or shameful and should not be treated as such.” By taking away LGBTQ topics in classrooms, LGBTQ kids will feel unsafe and unwelcome in school. It is also expected that this policy will have negative mental health impacts on the LGBTQ youth as they are already bullied and discriminated against. Willingham- Jaggers states in a USA Today article “when we exclude the LGBTQ+  young people from comprehensive education, we make them more isolated, behave in more risky ways and they are further pushed out and pushed into dangerous situations where negative outcomes are more likely.”

However, those in support of the bill say children should not be learning about gender identity and sexual orientation and this bill it will give families more input on what their children are learning in school. Supports believe that these decisions and discussions should be left to the parents. Before signing the bill, governor DeSantis says “”we will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination”. Educators have now become conflicted and face the fear of being sued. A first-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary school in Clearwater Fla says, gender identity and sexual orientation is not part of first grade curriculum but talking about families is. She wonders if she will be violating the bill as some of her students have two moms or two dads. Right-wing officials deny that this bill is anti-gay and is discriminating against queer and trans students. Although the Parental Rights In Education bill clearly states that it prohibits discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom. With this bill parents are permitted to sue schools that seem to violate this bill and schools are also required to inform parents when their child receives mental health care.