Florida governor Ron DeSantis has officially signed the state’s hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law, ironically and tragically surrounded by school students.
On Monday (28 March), ahead of signing the bill, also titled the Parental Rights in Education Bill, DeSantis accused anyone that opposes it of “sloganeering”, and said they “support sexualising kids in kindergarten”, “support injecting woke gender ideology into second grade classrooms”, and “support enabling schools to transition students to a different gender without the knowledge of the parent, much less without the parent’s consent”.
The bill, which will ban LGBT+ topics to be discussed in classrooms, either by school staff or third parties, between kindergarten and third grade. After third grade, these topics must be “age appropriate”, however the bill does not define this term.
The bill also mandates that school staff must out students to their potentially unsupportive families, stating that parents must be notified if there is any change in a “student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being”. The only exception is “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect”.
Parents will be able to sue school districts over any violations.
DeSantis signed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill at the Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill, Florida, surrounded by small children in school uniforms, many of whom were holding signs that read: “Protect children, support parents.”
Now that it has been signed, the bill will come into effect on 1 July, 2022.
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has received international backlash for erasing LGBT+ lives from Florida schools, and putting queer kids at risk.
Following the signing of the bill, Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of LGBT+ mental health and suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project, said in a statement: “LGBTQ youth in Florida deserve better. They deserve to see their history, their families, and themselves reflected in the classroom.
“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.”
The bill has seen fierce criticism not only from LGBT+ activists and the queer community, but from Joe Biden and his administration.
In a statement last month, Biden said: “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are.,
“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
Earlier this month, US education secretary Miguel Cardona and assistant secretary of health Dr Rachel Levine, the country’s first openly trans federal official approved by the Senate, promised their unwavering support to LGBT+ Florida kids and their families in a private virtual roundtable.
Cardona said in a statement: “Laws around the country, including in Florida, have targeted and sought to bully some of our most vulnerable students and families and create division in our schools.
“My message to you is that this administration won’t stand for bullying or discrimination of any kind, and we will use our authorities to protect, support, and provide opportunities for LGBTQI+ students and all students.”