Controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ To Be Debated Today

Shola Lee

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Controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ To Be Debated Today

Featured Image Credit: josephbharding/Twitter/Alamy

The controversial amendment to the 'Don't Say Gay' bill has been withdrawn by republican representative for Florida Joe Harding amid its scheduled floor vote today.

HB1557, also known as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, has been the subject of widespread controversy for prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

Harding proposed an amendment to the bill that would also allow educators to out LGBTQ+ students to their family, even if they are at risk.

The amendment has now been withdrawn, just as the bill was set to be discussed in the Florida House today, February 22.

Joe Harding (josephbharding/Twitter)
Joe Harding (josephbharding/Twitter)

Initially, the controversial HB1557 bill required schools to inform parents of their child's LGBTQ+ identity, but gave an exemption in cases where outing students could lead to 'abuse, neglect or abandonment'.

Harding's now retracted amendment did not offer this exemption and requires schools to inform parents of their child's LGBTQ+ identity 'within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent'.

The amendment suggested that if a student shares their LGBTQ+ identity with teachers, the school is required to 'develop a plan, using all available governmental resources' to tell their parents in a 'safe, supportive, and judgement-free environment'.

The bill as such has been widely condemned, with President Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki issuing a statement, as reported by The Hill.

Psaki said: 'Every parent... hopes that our leaders will ensure their [children's] safety, protection and freedom, and today conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack kids who need that support the most, kids from LGBTQI+ community.'

Jen Psaki (Alamy)
Jen Psaki (Alamy)

The bill also proposed that school districts 'may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students', The Independent reports.

This is why critics are terming the bill 'Can't Say Gay', because if passed it would prevent children from discussing their own or loved ones LGBTQ+ identity in a learning environment.

Many have condemned the bill, with some warning it could lead to further exclusion and higher instances of suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.

This includes Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of State of Transportation. Buttigieg and his husband Chaston have been advocating against the bill, and when asked if he thought the bill could contribute to rising suicide levels among LGBTQ+ Buttigie said 'absolutely', as per CNN.

The secretary of state added that the bill 'tells youth who are different, or who's families are different that there's something wrong with them out of the gate and I do think that contributes to the shocking levels of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth'.

He continued, 'As Chaston, my husband, pointed out, if our kids some Monday morning comes into class [...] and one of them says I had the best weekend with my dads, is a teacher supposed to say, 'no we don't talk about that here'.

'At any age where it's appropriate to talk about a kid's mom and dad, then it should be appropriate to talk about a kid's mom and mom or dad and dad, whatever family structures we live with; that's part of what it means to be pro-family, to be pro every family.'

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected] 

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers

Topics: News, US News, LGBTQ

Shola Lee
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