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A ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has been signed into law in Florida, banning teachers in the state from educating kindergarten to grade three schoolchildren on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill, which is called the Parents Rights in Education bill, became law on March 28 when Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, gave the last signature needed.
The new legislation says: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
When DeSantis signed the bill in a ceremony with schoolchildren in attendance, some of which were holding signs of protest, he said: “We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.”
Furthermore, during a press conference prior to the signing, he said that it was “inappropriate” for kindergarten students to learn “they can be whatever they want to be”.
Parents will be able to sue schools if they believe they have breached the new law.
Advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community are concerned about what this might do for young people coming to terms with their identity, and thousands of people are speaking up about their outrage at the new law.
Stacy Novak, Managing Director at Transliving International, an online magazine and support network for trans people, told PRUDE: “Many adults today suffer from keeping their feelings tucked away for many years, only realizing them after family or partners have passed away. To have a bill like this would mean many would suffer severe mental issues if not allowed to discuss their feelings with others.
“It is so important for young people to learn about gender and sexuality. For one, it stops them growing up with hate for what they do not understand, and it also helps them if these feelings of being different can be spoken about.”
She continued: “Parents should not push or deny, they should simply accept that something is different and allow the youngster to grow and find themselves. Of course, teaching needs to be age-appropriate; very young children could not possibly understand it all too early.
“But if America does not want to see a world of stressed mentally sick children who commit suicide through lack of understanding, they should get rid of this bill.”
A study by the Trevor Project found that LGBTQIA+ youth in affirming schools had almost a 40 per cent lower chance of attempting suicide compared to LGBTQIA+ youth in non-affirming schools.
Joe Biden, the President of the United States, has shown his disapproval of the bill, releasing a statement on Twitter saying “Our LGBTQIA+ youth deserve to be affirmed and accepted just as they are.”
Disney has also shown their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, saying how the company aims to help make the law be repealed. This comes after employees of the company hosted walkouts throughout March over Disney’s ‘slow response’ to publicly condemn the bill.
Enjoyed this article? Read more here: Disney employees host walkout over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill