Florida’s monstrous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes final hurdle and heads to governor’s desk

Florida governor Ron DeSantis

Despite international condemnation, Florida’s state Senate has passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill, widely known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

After more than six hours of debate, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on Tuesday (8 March), in a 22 to 17 vote. Two Republican state senators joined Democrats in voting against the bill.

It will now head to the desk of Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Just last week, DeSantis asked at a press conference: “How many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom discussion?”

If signed into law, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill would ban “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 bill also encourages school staff to out LGBT+ students to their parents, insisting that caregivers must be informed of any information about a “student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being”, including their sexuality or gender identity.

The only exception is if “that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment or neglect”.

Responding to the bill’s passage through the Florida State Senate, The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention charity of LGBT+ youth, begged DeSantis to reject the bill.

Amit Paley, the charity’s executive director, said in a statement: “Every LGBTQ young person deserves to attend a school that provides an inclusive, affirmative environment – not one that aims to erase their existence.

“We know that LGBTQ youth already face higher risk for bullying, depression, and suicide – and this bill will only add to the stigma that fuels these disparities.

“But it is not too late to stop it from becoming law. The Trevor Project urges Florida’s governor to reject this bill and, instead, support efforts that protect LGBTQ youth across the state.”

Activists have warned the bill would make LGBT+ rights and lives a “taboo topic” in schools, similar to Britain’s Section 28 and Russia and Hungary’s so-called “gay propaganda bills”, and the fight against it has included student walk-outs and protests, and even condemnation from US President Joe Biden.

In a statement last month, Biden said: “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are.,

“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”