Updated: Mar 12
You’ve probably been hearing about a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill in Florida and wondering what it is and whether it really says, “Don’t Say Gay.” First, Florida House Bill 1557 never mentions the word ‘gay’ and it never denounces any person in the LGBTQ+ community. This bill is actually titled, ‘Parental Rights in Education,’ and its intended purpose is quite reasonable. As of Tuesday, the bill has passed in the Florida Senate and will now be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis' desk where it will likely be signed into law.
Demonstrators in Florida on March 7, 2022. Source: Wilfredo Lee, AP
HB 1557 aims to ensure parents have the ultimate power in their children’s lives and simultaneously serves to keep educators in check as far as the content they’re teaching. One of the main tenets of the bill “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or orientation in certain grade levels.” What are those grade levels? - Pre-K through 3rd grade, or rather, ages where kids are impressionable and sexuality should have no place in curricula.
Under HB 1557, school districts will be required to share any and all information with parents, especially regarding decisions that affect children’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. In the exact words of the 'Parental Rights in Education Bill':
“[It]...requires district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying student's parent of specified information; requires such procedures to reinforce fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children; prohibits school district from adopting procedures or student support forms that prohibit school district personnel from notifying parent about specified information or that encourage student to withhold from parent such information...”
This bill comes in response to parents across the nation speaking out against progressive ideologies being taught to their children in public schools. There have been numerous cases of teachers boasting on TikTok and other social media platforms about persuading students to adopt certain sexual orientations or gender identities. In one of the worst cases, a Minnesota minor received a sex change operation without his parents' consent which led to a lawsuit filed by the mother against the county, school district, and health services providers. Read more about the story here.
Drag Queens have been making appearances at libraries and schools in the last couple of years. Image Source
The reaction to HB 1557 has been fiery, polarized, far-reaching, and often misguided with protests erupting in Florida and nationwide. However, mainstream media has unequivocally contributed to this outcry due to dubbing the bill ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and misleading many with a narrative not based on facts. You can read the entirety of HB 1557 directly from the Florida Senate website here.
Florida Governor DeSantis said in a statement:
"At the end of the day, you know, my goal is to educate kids on the subjects—math, reading, science—all the things that are so important. I don’t want the schools to...be a playground for ideological disputes...”
Proponents of the bill couldn't agree more; believing that school is for academic excellence (not political activism) and believing that parents—not teachers or administrators or the state—should have the final say.