Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill to Take Effect in July

Charlotte Holubar

On March 28, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Bill 1557, referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, into law. This bill, which has the official title Parental Rights in Education Act, will be implemented on July 1 in the state of Florida. The bill accompanies a growing conservative movement working to restrict LGBTQ+ curriculum in schools. 

The “Don’t Say Gay Bill” allows parents to be more involved in what their children are learning at school. Within this, plenty of restrictions have been placed on student to teacher relationships, student’s education, and student’s identities. 

The main clause of this bill that has caused the most controversy restricts learning about sexual orientation in the classroom: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” 

“It ensures parents can send their kids to kindergarten without gender ideology being injected into instruction, and they will be notified and have the right to decline healthcare services offered at schools,” DeSantis wrote in a tweet on his professional account. 

Other state legislative bodies have decided to follow in Florida’s footsteps with a total of 15 proposals in nine different states regarding LGBTQ+ based education. Kansas, Tennessee, and Indiana have proposed bills that go beyond just talking about sexuality; they do not allow the mention of phrases such as sexual orientation, transgender, or gender identity. 

There has been a large opposition to these bills from the liberal wing of politicians and human rights law firms. Democratic Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s 7th Congressional District tweeted, “I’m dismayed the Governor signed this deeply polarizing bill into law today. Children should feel affirmed & accepted when they go to school. Florida’s students aren’t pawns to be exploited for political gain.”

Many law firms continue to argue that these types of bills are unconstitutional, debating whether or not the First Amendment right of free speech is being violated. The bill and debate are complex because it depends on how much a state legislative body is allowed to limit speech and expression when it relates to public schooling.