The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill: A Despicable Attack on Student and Human Rights


Image Source: Miami Herald

Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

In 2015 the groundbreaking case, Obergefell v Hodges, took to the Supreme Court as the nation held its breath to see what the verdict would be on the legality of same-sex marriage in America. Before the monumental passing of the bill, same-sex marriage had been legal in a few states, however, that itself was a primary issue. States were allowed to decide the legality of same-sex marriage, which went over better in some more than others. However, by 2015 (which was shockingly recent) the union between homosexual couples became legalized all across the United States. Despite this, prejudice and discrimination towards the LGBT community have ceased to wane away, with restrictions and limitations at a high. Courts recently saw cases involving the legality of adoption between a same-sex couple, others saw issues with job and healthcare discrimination. The problem continues to exist amongst its growing younger generation, particularly in schooling institutions. 

In Florida, a new bill dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by activists would be imposed as a law where schools could prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity. The imposition was created by Senator Joe Harding and supported by part of the Florida Legislative body, and has been recently moving forward, just passing in the House Committee on 2/7/2022- the bill now heads to review by the Judiciary Committee. Activists say that banning the discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity would be invalid erasure of gay, trans, lesbian + lives and imply that their way of being is inherently shameful, or something to be looked down upon. Under the bill, parents can essentially sue school districts for violating the terms (i.e if a teacher were to mention their sexual orientation, students were to express their orientation with a pride flag, discussion of the topics even in casual forms, etc.) 

LGBT youths are already at an increased risk of feeling unsafe at school and being discriminated against. Furthermore, their rate of suicide is nearly 23% higher than that of straight/cis-gendered teenagers. Fortunately, Gay Rights Activists alongside Florida students, families, and teachers marched in protest of the bill this past week. Many teachers have expressed that their main priority and goal is to keep students feeling safe and that passing a blatantly discriminatory bill to eradicate conversation on the topic with legal consequences would eliminate that. 

Lawmakers argue that the deal with LGBT representation and education is a “parental rights issue” which essentially means that parents should get to decide if they want their children to be taught about or in the vicinity of discussion of, LGBT history/gender identity options, etc. 

Lawmakers are overlooking the mental health statistics and the huge crisis they are about to impose on a group of already marginalized students. The bill, in some cases, would require teachers to notify students’ parents if they are discussing anything related to these banned topics, essentially outing them. A lot of students go home to parents who will not accept them for who they are, so they often have to find that sanctuary and place of being at school, with friends, and allies clubs. This bill directly strips them of this outlet, puts them in danger, and invalidates their whole identity. It is unrealistic for the real world to shield children from topics and discussions they (or their parents) may not approve of. The U.S. has a diverse spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations that will exist indefinitely as they always have, so to try and silence the conversation does little to nothing in that respect. 

It’s ironic that some lawmakers feel temporarily uncomfortable about simply existing in the presence of those with different gender and sexual identities when this group of people has had to deal with feeling marginalized and ostracised their whole life. 

Although I am not a part of the community myself, I can not imagine waking up in a world where the validity of my existence is questioned by the law. It scares me that after years of so much progress and proof of the detriments that come with keeping people silenced that our legal system still allows for even the consideration of such discriminatory bills like this one. There is great danger in having a narrow-minded perspective.

***This opinion article reflects the voice of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Viking Times as a whole. Like most news outlets, The Viking Times is a non-partisan media platform.***