State legislators in Florida have voted in favour of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill which prohibits the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. The bill will now move to the state senate – where it is expected to pass – before being signed into law by Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who has previously expressed his support for the legislation.
As well as banning discussions of LGBT topics in the classroom, the bill, passed by 69-47 votes, also includes a provision where schools will be compelled to “out” students to their parents.
The bill has been widely criticised by parents and activists. Nadine Smith, executive director of the not-for-profit campaign group Equality Florida, commented, “Every child has a right to speak honestly about their lives, a right to have access to a history that is honest and includes them, and a right to library books that reflect and include who they are. What we are seeing is the systematic erasure, or elimination of those resources for young people and a gag order imposed on educators.”
The bill is the latest example of anti-gay legislation in the US. South Carolina’s health education programmes “may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.”
Louisiana’s law demands that “no sex education course shall utilise any sexually explicit materials depicting male or female homosexual activity,” while both Texas and Alabama require schools to emphasise that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public” and that “homosexual conduct is a criminal offence [under state rather than federal law].”
Mississippi, which still criminalises sodomy as an “abominable crime against nature” and requires teachers to “teach the current state law related to sexual conduct, including forcible rape, statutory rape, paternity establishment, child support and homosexual activity”.