On March 28, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which changes the state’s primary education. This bill is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
According to NPR, the bill states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Florida will be the second state to create a bill that limits the LGBTQ+ community in education, following a Texas bill that forces transgender student athletes to compete based on their assigned sex at birth. For Florida, it isn’t just at a high school sports level, but at an elementary school level, which impacts vital formative years when students learn as many new topics as they can.
I don’t know how this law even made it to the governor’s desk, and it sets back decades of LGBTQ+ rights activism. Same-sex marriage is just as legitimate as marriage between different sexes. Schools still talk about marriage, but now Florida schools can’t talk about being gay, even though same-sex marriage has been legal in the United States for nearly seven years.
According to the MAYO Clinic, humans understand gender between the ages of 18 to 24 months. If people can tell the difference between genders, that means they understand different genders exist, so they should learn about them. The whole point of school is learning, yet Florida is removing important topics from their curriculum that elementary school students are capable of understanding in an age-appropriate manner as the bill requires.
Since this bill is so vague, some teachers may revolt and teach their students about gender and sexuality with the reasoning that it is “age-appropriate” because that’s what the bill says teachers need to follow. However, if the bill is harshly applied, it may cause teachers to leave Florida schools. The U.S. already has a teacher shortage, and this certainly won’t help.
The worst part of this bill is that it went all the way to the governor. If the bill can make it all the way to the governor’s desk in Florida, then it can make it to the governor’s desk in other states, too. The bill’s success could entice other states to try and pass similar bills.
Even with rising support for the LGBTQ+ community, this bill takes our country back to a time when gay marriage wasn’t legal. Like the Texas student athlete bill, it shouldn’t have been signed in the first place, but the fact that two states have signed bills like this is unacceptable. These existing bills should be appealed, and similar bills should never make it this far again.