A Florida bill that would limit classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity and encourage parents to sue schools or teachers that engage in these topics is speeding through the GOP controlled state House and Senate.
The aptly nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” bill by LGBT fear that if this bill is signed into law, it could act as a complete ban on the lessons on LGBT oppression, history and discussions about LGBT identities.
The two bills in the state legislature, HB 1557 and SB 1834, state that a school district “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.” It also adds that parents who catch a violation of this rule can sue, seeking damages and reimbursement for attorney fees and court costs.
Florida GOP House Rep. Joe Harding, who is the sponsor of the legislation, hopes it will “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children,” according to the bill’s text.
The bill is particularly troubling in a state where there have been tragic hate crimes committed against those in the LGBT community, including the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando in which 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded.
2021 was a record-breaking year for anti-LGBTQ legislation. More than 250 of these bills were introduced and at least 17 were enacted into law. All of which introduced into GOP controlled states.