Don’t Say Gay Bill: 3 Things You Need To Know About Florida’s New Law
For far too long, homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia have been disguised under religious freedom. With this new Floridian bill, it seems like we are just adding kerosene to fire at this point. I’m an atheist through and through but, I grew up in a religious household. I didn’t really vibe with religion. I am an atheist, and I respect anyone’s religious belief because you do you, and I’ll do me.
As long as your faith isn’t infringing on my rights, I’m a-okay with it. But this bill is making the waters murkier and can water down the little protection we minorities still have. This is why liberal protesters and LGBTQIA+ groups alike are protesting the Don’t Say Gay bill. So, let’s dive into this blog and learn a bit more about it.
What is this bill?
Also known as the “Parental Rights In Education,” this specific bill aims to ban classroom discussion about gender identity and sexuality, especially at the primary grade level. This homophobic bill (in my opinion) seek to ensure that parents can decide what their children are exposed to at school.
My point for this is then why I, a mixed Indian and African American kid had to learn about white history at school. I don’t think my parents wanted me to see my enslaved ancestors being whipped in books written by the white man. So why should I learn about glorified white history, but your kids can’t learn about queer history.
It is school; we learn what on the curriculum, learning about queer history or the word gay won’t make your child gay, just like watching straight series and movies didn’t make me straight. The only thing this does is given your child the right words to use to address someone who doesn’t follow the heteronormative and binary way of life, and they will have proper words to identify themselves if they happen to be queer.
If this bill is passed, then students will be able to take legal action against the school or the district. Not like the schooling system is already one thin hedge. According to a 2021 report from the Trevor Project, 52% of queer middle and high schoolers said that they had been bullied either online or in person in the past year.
Why is the Parental Rights In Education being criticized?
A lot of LGBTQIA+ advocates have criticized this bill, and they have drawn parallels between this bill and the 1990s no promo homo law. The latter laws, just like the current bills, banned teachers from anything pertaining to sexuality at school. It also makes the life of queer, non-binary, and trans people more complicated than it already is.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, had this to say on the matter:
“Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom. Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most.”
Having said this, advocates fear that this current bill keeps students from learning about equality and fear that this might erase one of the most heinous queer mascara in Florida history. By erasing history and not allowing future generations to learn about this incident, we are erasing issues such as the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
It is important to remember that schools are still a hostile environment for queer kids. 33% of students between 13 to 21 said that they had missed at least a day of school in the last month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable in that specific space. By doing this, we are also further ostracizing queer kids from learning more about their identity.
To top this off, according to the GLSEN report, about 98.8% of queer students at school have heard the word gay used in a negative way, and more than 95% of them have been called or heard a homophobic slur while they were on school grounds.
This is not the first bill like this.
Over the past few decades, many such bills have been introduced, and some of them have even been instated into law. A lot of these laws were introduced in the late 1970s and 80s when the US was at its height of anti-gay activism. However, several of these objective homophobic laws have been repealed now.
In the last year alone, more than 28 states have introduced some kind of bill that limits conversation about sexuality and race, and conservative lawmakers have mostly instated them. Out of all these bills that were introduced, at least 10 of them have been signed into law, and this is truly disparaging for a queer person.
As a queer, non-binary person of color, I’m against this bill and can’t agree with it. It is really dehumanizing when you think about it when I grew up without learning about queer history or sex at school. If you live in Florida, use your voice and write to your local mayor or governor and tell them your thought about this disgusting bill.
So, use your voice and make it clear that we queer people won’t keep quiet when they are slowly stripping away our rights. Like, come on, it’s 2022, and we can’t be going backward when it comes to our basic human rights. So let’s sign petitions and write to the governor and let’s use our voice to show what we advocate for.
Learning the word gay or queer history won’t, and I repeat, won’t make your kid queer. Let’s get that clear once and for all. Sound off in the comments section below and tell us your thoughts on this new law.
I would like to end this blog with a line from my favorite movie. The quote comes from the Taiwanese movie, Your Name Engraved Herein:
“So you can like girls, but I can’t like boys?
Is your love bigger than the love I give?
Tell me. What’s the difference between your love and mine? Tell me the difference!”
The director of the movie ah d this to say and this resoantes with me as a queer person:
“[We] are allowed to love, [we] are not guilty” and hope that with the international release of the movie, we’ll see more queer movies that explore the life and journey of different people and their queerness.”