Florida’s House of Representatives has passed H.B 1557, prohibiting the teaching of gender and sexuality in primary school, reported NPR. Many LGBTQ+ youth advocates have fought against the bill claiming it will make the lives of LGBTQ+ youth more difficult. However, the Republicans have taken parents’ idea that gender and sexuality isn’t an “age appropriate” topic to the extreme.
The bill not only bars teachers from speaking about gender and sexuality but also requires schools notify parents if their child is experiencing anything that prohibits their ability to learn, per NPR. However, schools can hold some records from parents if they perceive disclosing the information may result in negligence or abandonment.
Advocates, as expected, were not so chipper about the bill, dubbing it as ‘Don’t Say Gay.’ Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an openly gay representative, led the fight against the bill, per the Tampa Bay Times.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
“We call it the ‘don’t say gay’ bill because it prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Smith said. “But members, this bill goes way beyond the text on the page. It sends a terrible message to our youth, that there is something so wrong, so inappropriate, so dangerous about this topic that we have to censor it from classroom instruction.”
He noted the bill does not prohibit lessons about sexual activity, but rather about sexual orientation and an “entire community of people.”
The bill passed the House with a 69-47 vote. That’s not the only bill that passed either. Beside the fight against teaching gender and sexuality was the fight against teaching critical race theory, which trickled down into basic Black history.
The H.B. 7 bill, heavily supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis would restrict the ways in which students learn about slavery and the ongoing impacts of racism, per Tampa Bay Times. The bill is supposed to keep students (white ones) from feeling guilty after learning about the past. However, it essentially hides pieces of history.
From Tampa Bay:
“It’s extremely, extremely important for our children to know our history — the bad parts and the good parts — but to know that their lives aren’t responsible for that history,” said state Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Citrus County Republican.
State Rep. Rene Plasencia, an Orlando Republican and high school history teacher, chided the bill’s critics for misrepresenting the measure.
“As an expert in the teaching of history, there is nothing that alarms me or frustrates me about this bill,” Plasencia said. “But remember, our words do have consequences, our false narratives have consequences.”
Hopefully students under the age of 10 still have access to resources or spaces that make them feel safe in their identity or intersectional identities.