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The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill is Terrifying for Kids

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

MARCH 8, 2022 – The Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, has now been passed by both the Florida Republican-controlled Senate and House. Governor Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for the bill and is expected to sign it.

What does the bill Actually say?

Celebrities, public officials, and others have been debating the applications of the bill in the media. As always, misinformation has run rampant (even though the bill is accessible online to the public). Pulling information directly from the Florida Senate website, the Parental Rights in Education bill:

  • Reinforces the “fundamental right” of parents to make decisions “regarding upbringing & control of their children”
  • Prohibits confidentiality between teachers and students about topics such as sexuality – parents must be notified
  • Prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Authorizes parents to take action against/sue school districts for discussion of sexual orientation

In simpler words, the bill seeks to take Free Speech rights away from teachers. It pressures teachers to conform to the wishes of parents (who have not gone through years of education and training on how to teach!), or else they may be sued. Conversations about sexuality will disappear from Florida classrooms, which is extremely problematic for kids.


State Rep. Joe Harding, a Republican who introduced the bill, told TIME in February that the bill intends to keep parents “in the know and involved on what’s going on” with their child’s education. However, the bill’s applications will out many kids to unaccepting parents, creating hostile at-home environments. It will also outcast and alienate children who have queer, non-conforming, or transgender parent(s).

Kara Gross, the legislative director and senior policy counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida raised an important point: imagine elementary school students are asked to draw pictures of their families. What happens if a child being raised by a same-sex couple draws a picture of their two dads? Their teacher might have to decide between excluding the student or opening themselves and their school up to a lawsuit from parents.

School is meant to be a safe place for students to learn about themselves and express their emotions – especially in fundamental, formative elementary education that will influence the rest of a child’s development. Already, LGBTQ children are four times more likely to seriously consider suicide, make a plan for suicide, and attempt suicide than their peers. If this statistic sounds horrifying, it’s because it is.

At a Senate hearing on Feb. 8, Republican Sen. Travis Hutson gave the example of a math problem that includes the details that “Sally has two moms or Johnny has two dads.” ​​Republican State Sen. Dennis Baxley, who sponsors the bill in the Senate, said that is “exactly” what the bill aims to prevent.

These senators wish to deny the existence of LGBTQ+ students and parents. However, as stated by Cathryn M. Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, “The existence of LGBTQ+ people across Florida is not up for debate. We are proud parents, students, and teachers, and LGBTQ+ people deserve to exist boldly, just like everyone else.”


Students across Florida have already begun to protest this bill. Senior Jack Petocz from Flagler Palm Coast High School used social media to organize walkouts. Petocz said he was called into his principal’s office and suspended “indefinitely” for distributing 200 pride flags for the rally. Linked below is a Tallahassee-area walkout:

Students, parents, and teachers must continue to fight for the well-being of young kids to prevent bills like this from becoming standard across more schools. This bill affects the mental health, home life, socialization, and formative beliefs of students. The argument that sexual orientation doesn’t belong in schools proves extremely outdated. All students deserve the chance to learn about, understand, and feel accepted for their ever-changing aspects of identity.

Links to more media

LGBTQ+ Youth Resources

The #SayGay Fund

The Trevor Project

Chloé Hummel was the 2023-2024 President and Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus UConn, after previously serving as Vice President and Contributing Writer. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in May 2024 with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is also a certified yoga instructor.