Florida is set to vote in a controversial state bill that would ban certain discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom
According to the legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, school districts “may not encourage 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.”
Despite fierce opposition from Democrats and LGBTQ advocates, the bill is on the agenda for Tuesday, February 8 meeting of Senate Education Committee.
On Monday, February 7, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis voiced his support for the bill.
DeSantis, a Republican, said it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers and school administrators to have conversations with students about their gender identity, saying that, in some schools, children are told “Don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet.”
DeSantis, though, also acknowledged, “I don’t think it’s happening here in large numbers.”
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write.”
“They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the US Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic things.” the governor said at a press event Monday.
It’s the first time DeSantis has publicly signaled support for an effort by state Republican lawmakers to shut down certain conversations in schools about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gay rights activists warn that the bi would lead to further stigmatization of gay, lesbian and transgender children, causing more bullying and suicides within an already marginalized community. They say the bill would eliminate LGBTQ history from the curriculum and prevent teachers from having discussions with their classrooms if questions about sexual orientation and gender identity come up.
Supporters of the bill say the moratorium is directed at school districts, as it will prevent same-sex parents from participating in classroom activities and keep teachers from sponsoring gay lesbian alliance clubs.
DeSantis said the goal is to create transparency for parents.
“You have politicians saying parents have no role in the education of their kids. Give me a break,” he said.
“We want parents to be able to have access to what’s going on in the classroom.”