By: Hannah Stoughton
March 28th, 2022: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” a bill that forbids teachings of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, at Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill, FL on March 28th, 2022.
After signing a piece of legislation that may potentially forbid schools from keeping certain books in their libraries, DeSantis pushed another bill that regulates schools.
Florida’s House Bill 1557, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by the opposition, does not allow kindergarten through third-grade students to be taught about sexual orientation or gender identity. DeSantis and Republicans believe that it is up to the parent to introduce these things to children, and not the educators.
The law states: “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 also allows for parents to sue schools over violations.
“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” said DeSantis as he prepared to sign the law.
Democratic Politicians have criticized the law since its conception, with President Joe Biden calling it “hateful” and the husband of the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Chasten, says that the bill harms children more than it helps.
“I think about what life might be like for our kids when they start school. If they were in a place like Florida, it might stop them from mentioning they had a great time over the weekend with their dads,” Buttigieg said in an interview.
Throughout the debate on the law, Democrats have made it clear that their major concern is the law’s language. The use of the phrases “classroom instruction” and “age-appropriate” strikes the
DNC as extremely general phrasing. State Representative Carlos G. Smith said that “The Bill’s intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level.”
Certain corporations are taking a stance against the bill as well, including Disney.
The Walt Disney Company cut funding from the political donations in the state, taking an opposing stance to DeSantis’ bill in a statement they released: “Our goal as a company is for this
law to be repealed by the legislator or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
Florida teachers are now worrying about their profession and have begun to question whether or not they will stay. Many have said that their jobs are going to change into something much more difficult than the already near-impossible task at hand, as well as saying that they just don’t feel safe.
“It does make me truly feel like a lesser person… that I can’t be who I truly am in front of my kids… that I can’t answer questions about who I am,” Kindergarten teacher Corey Barnaert said in an interview with Tampa Bay Channel 10 News. “Me being part of the LGBTQ+ community is who I am.”