Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill: 3 More Things To Know

For too long, homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia have been disguised as religious freedom. With this new Florida bill, we are just adding fuel to the fire at this point. I am an atheist through and through, but I grew up in a religious household. I didn’t vibe with religion. I’m an atheist, and I respect everyone’s religious beliefs because you do you, and I do me.

That’s why liberal protesters and LGBTQIA+ groups protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. I’m okay with it as long as your faith doesn’t infringe on my rights. But this bill muddies the waters and may dilute what little protection we minorities still have. So let’s dive into this blog and learn a little more about it.

About this bill

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Also known as “parental rights in education,” this bill seeks to prohibit any classroom discussion of gender identity and sexuality, particularly at the elementary level. This homophobic (in my opinion) bill aims to ensure that parents can decide what their children are exposed to in school.

In the schooling system, we learn what is on the curriculum; learning about gay history or the word gay will not make your child gay, just as watching straight shows and movies did not make me straight. The only thing it does is give your child the right words to use to address someone who doesn’t follow the binary, heteronormative way of life, and they will have the right words to identify if it turns out they are queer.

If this bill passes, students will be able to take legal action against the school or district. It’s not like the school system is already a thin hedge. According to a 2021 report by The Trevor Project, 52 percent of queer middle and high school students reported being bullied online or in-person in the past year.

What impact could the Don’t Say Gay bill have?

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Supporters say that because Florida’s K-3 program does not currently include discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity, the legislation would not require updating the state’s curriculum. But LGBTQ advocates warn that the law would make classrooms unsafe spaces for LGBTQ children or children with LGBTQ family members. These children often already face increased rates of stigma and isolation.

The legislation could also affect how teachers deliver instruction daily. At a Senate hearing on February 8, Republican Sen. Travis Hutson gave the example of a math problem that includes the details that “Sally has two moms or Johnny has two dads. “Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, said that’s “exactly” what the bill aims to prevent.

The bill also creates a new avenue for litigation. It potentially allows parents to sue the school district if they believe their children have received inappropriate instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity.” Supporters say broad language in the law could open the door to lawsuits over instruction above the third grade.

Imagine if elementary school students were asked to draw pictures of their families and present them to the class, said Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy advisor for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which opposes the bill. What happens if a child raised by a same-sex couple draws a picture of both fathers? Their teacher may be faced with deciding between allowing the child to participate, Gross told TIME in February, opening himself and his school up to lawsuits, or excluding them from the exercise.

Disney and the Don’t Say Gay bill

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On the Disney side, it is the malaise: employees have demonstrated this week against the “apathy” of the group. The problems began with an internal memo sent on March 7 by Bob Chapek, the company’s CEO, that employs more than 75,000 people at Disney World Orlando.

According to the document cited by several local media outlets after meeting with employees from the LGBT+ community, the executive said he was reluctant for Disney to oppose the Florida law. He argued that corporate communications “do very little to change things or minds” and “are often used as divisive weapons by one side or the other.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest U.S. advocacy organization for the LGTB+ community, said it would refuse Disney’s donation until the company acts to prevent other draft legislation similar to Florida’s “from becoming dangerous law.”

And LGBT+ workers at Disney subsidiary Pixar animation studio published a letter in “Variety” magazine decrying the fact that “almost every moment of openly gay affection” in their work “is cut at the behest” of the entertainment giant.

The controversy escalated further when media outlets revealed that several Republican elected officials in Florida who supported the controversial law had received donations from Disney. Bob Chapek announced last Friday that all Disney political donations in Florida would be suspended until further notice.

Employees have decided to protest every day during their break. The movement will culminate on Tuesday with a nationwide strike by LGBT+ employees and supporters.┬áBut that decision did not convince Disney’s LGBT+ employee group, which called for this week’s protests.

Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill.

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