‘Don’t Say Gay’ is a slippery slope


Nikolai Gentes, Staff

On March 8., the Florida senate passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed by its detractors as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. The bill forbids schools from teaching students in grades K-3 about LGBTQ+-related subject matter and bans the teaching of LGBTQ+ materials for all grade levels if it is not deemed age or developmentally-appropriate. 

This bill is yet another instance of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in The South, under the dubious guise of “protecting children.”

Oftentimes, these laws exist under the notion that teaching children about LGBTQ+ people is predatory or inappropriate. 

This is simply not true.

The implicit assumption made is that teaching young people about LGBTQ+ community is inherently sexual. 

How so? Is a gay couple walking down the street holding hands somehow more sexualized than a straight couple doing the same thing? If a student is exposed to a gay character in a novel and the first thing the student’s first thought is sexual, it says more about said student than the LGBTQ+ community. 

I’m not suggesting that we teach sex education to 8-year-olds. I’m simply saying that there is no reason to exclude a book from the school curriculum simply because it features a gay character.

If you truly believe in the validity, humanity and equal rights of LGBTQ+ community, why shield children from them? Shouldn’t we be raising our kids to be accepting and loving adults? Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids that we’re all valuable? 

Supporters of the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill will argue that teaching LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms is a form of indoctrination. This is ridiculous. A child cannot be taught to be gay. 

Quite simply, the goal of education should be to teach children that LGBTQ+ people are deserving of equal rights and treatment. Do we not teach The Golden Rule? How is teaching children to treat people in the LGBTQ+ community with the same kindness and respect any different? 

The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill also poses a threat to the quality of education for children in Florida. If a book is a useful learning tool for students, should it really be thrown out of the curriculum simply because it makes reference to LGBTQ+ topics? 

According to this bill, yes. There are many quality books that would serve as terrific learning tools that won’t even be given the time of day if they allude to LGBTQ+ issues. It is silly to downgrade the quality of education in the name of bigotry. 

Florida’s new bill creates a slippery slope that will lead to more bigoted laws being passed. In fact, this is already happening. Already there is a proposed amendment to the bill that would require school staff to alert parents within six days if they discover their child was a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The harm of outing an LGBT+ child is grave and could lead to parental abuse, mental health problems or bullying from their peers. Gay kids should not have to walk on eggshells. 

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill is the newest in a line of many anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that has been spreading throughout the United States. Not only are its current measures harmful, but its rippling effects may prove more dangerous.