“Don’t Say Gay” Bill


Bridgette Valdescona, Staff Reporter

School should be a place where anything could be talked about and a place where students can share their thoughts and opinions about important topics. This safe place may become affected by a bill being created in Florida that has started to be put into action. The House Bill 1557, better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels. This not only affects children in the LGBTQ+ community, but also those who know people who are in the community and want to be educated further.

The bill says that its purpose is to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children,“ but in many cases, this ‘control of their children’ silences their children’s voices and strips them of their freedoms.

It limits the discussion and instruction of gender and sexuality in all grades which is why it is called the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill by those opposing it. In the cases where it can be discussed, it has to be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” The bill uses very vague language, and it could have massive impacts on students and teachers. This hurts those exploring their gender and sexuality, as they would not be able to ask questions or discuss it at all in school. Kids with parents who are not accepting of the LGBTQ+ community are especially affected by this effect of the bill.

Along with this, the bill proposes that parents know when their children receive mental health services in school. It may be helpful in some cases, but kids with abusive parents simply looking for help would not be able to reach out in school because their parents would be told about it. The bill even states that parents can refuse counseling and health services for their children if they want to. 

In their teen years, most kids are exploring who they are and dealing with immense pressure from school and home, and they are entitled to their privacy regarding their mental health, gender, sexuality, and more. It is incredibly scary being outed, and it is important for those who are LGBTQ+ to come out on their terms when they are comfortable. Many kids are kicked out, beaten, and even killed because of their identity.

The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill threatens the freedom and safety of children and destroys the safe space that many kids find at school. Other legislation similar to this bill has been proposed in various states like Alabama, Ohio, and Louisiana. Could New Jersey be next?