By Mark Ziobro | Managing Editor
The egregious ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by its opponents, has passed the Florida Senate this past week.
The bill, which restricts talk of sexuality and gender issues by teachers to children (supposedly specifically from Kindergarten – Third Grade) seeks to fight back against imagined ‘oppression’ by arguing that parents’ rights to raise their children should not end when they enter school. But what it does is (a) eliminate any talk or support of LGBTQ issues in children and (b) allow parents to sue teachers or schools that speak of, or use the terms outlined above in their curriculum.
All of this of course comes out of conservative views wrongly alleging that supporting LGBTQ students, or talking about race or sexuality “brainwashes” students into believing ‘liberal’ doctrines or influences their sexuality.
Of course it’s not hard to understand the damage this bill can do to LGBTQ students—especially since its opponents cite that its loose and vague language may extend it past the “third grade” end date.
The simple fact is that gay and transgender kids do exist, and this bill is an attempt by a group of people to squash that idea—and thereby support for these groups—because it makes them personally uncomfortable. Talking about sexuality and gender issues DOES NOT cause one to become transgender or gay. What it does do is allow people who may be having these feelings feel accepted and normal; which is something that can only help these individuals and decrease stigma and potential mental health problems.
Of course, this bill is wrapped up in the wrongful propaganda that parents’ rights are being eroded—that they are losing control of raising their kids—because schools talk about real-world issues like gender and sexuality. No such rights are being eroded.
What the bill does do, however, is erode protections that may be needed for LGBTQ students, as students who are having issues with these issues or even abuse becuase of these issues, subtracting teachers as a possible support.
Coupling this with some of the legislation to come out of Texas and Arizona recently, it’s a glaring cause for alarm.
So while legislation like this is anger-inducing to those with a moral compass, what can be done to fight back?
There are luckily several ways that Americans can state their displeasure at bills like this and support LGBTQ persons as well. They can write their local Representatives to let them know their displeasure with legislation like this. They can support organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Human Right’s Campaign (HRC). There are multitudes of group and charities that can combat anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric.
But I feel the most important change has to come on the parental level. The parents that want to eliminate any gender, sexuality, or race discussions from school do so with a desire to erase LGBTQ progress made thus far. I only hope enough parents that see the harm that these laws and bills can cause are willing to fight back, and stop the right-wing agenda to erase LGBTQ rights in their tracks.