Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation marginalizes the LGBTQ community

May 6, 2022

Florida HB 1557, more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Law, is rightfully inciting outrage across America. This legislation alienates members of the LGBTQ community and causes apprehension among teachers.

On March 28, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) signed the controversial bill, which forbids instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3. For other grades, the bill explicitly bans instruction that is “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate in accordance with state standards.” This language is worrisome because it is vague and open to interpretation

While classroom instruction about sex education is not appropriate for younger children, it is important for them to feel comfortable discussing gender identity and sexual orientation without being ostracized.

Without education about LGBTQ-inclusive topics, students will grow up without knowing how to approach these subjects or talk about them. 

A lack of information and acceptance could cause children to grow up with prejudice or even hate towards the LGBTQ community. The antidote to this stigmatization is thoughtful communication guided by a teacher, guidance counselor or other qualified school personnel.

This legislation means that children with LGBTQ parents could be prohibited from drawing pictures of their families or discussing their weekends in the classroom.

Unfortunately, Florida’s legislation will make teachers afraid of saying the wrong thing. They will worry that their curriculum or responses to students’ questions could be considered inappropriate by parents, who are being encouraged to sue school districts.

Families, LGBTQ individuals, advocates and experts in the field of education all say this law will hurt LGBTQ children. 

Studies have already proven that LGBTQ youth face greater health and suicide risks than cisgender and straight children. However, LGBTQ youth who learn about queer issues in school are 23% less likely to report a suicide attempt, according to a 2021 report from the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that helps prevent suicide among LGBTQ young people.

LGBTQ parents and pediatric psychologists believe the law stigmatizes members of the LGBTQ community and will be damaging to their mental health.  

One of the problems with this law is that it isolates LGBTQ youth and those who have LGBTQ family members by conveying the message that they or their families are abnormal.  

This legislation means that children with LGBTQ parents could be prohibited from drawing pictures of their families or discussing their weekends in the classroom. 


In fact, this law goes so far as to require schools to inform parents about health and support services offered to their kids and allows parents to deny these services on their child’s behalf. This would be detrimental to children whose families do not accept their gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBTQ children who do not have understanding and supportive parents generally use school as an outlet to express themselves and view it as a safe space, but this law takes that comfort away. Thus, it leaves these children without a support system. 

Companies such as The Walt Disney Company have already spoken out against this bill, and others including Nordstrom, Pinterest and Starbucks have quietly signed a petition condemning anti-LGBTQ legislation. LGBTQ rights organizations including Equality Florida, Family Florida and the National Center Lesbian Rights have already filed a lawsuit. Likewise, some families in Florida have filed complaints against the law. 

Florida’s dangerous law is likely to be challenged in court on the grounds that it violates Title IX, which, beginning in June 2021, prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This was a reversal of the Trump administration’s position that gay and transgender students are not protected under Title IX. The law could also be found to violate other civil rights protections including the 1st Amendment.

The LGBTQ community should be celebrated rather than disenfranchised and discriminated against. This begins at the K-12 level with educators who are empowered to use their best judgment and children who feel they can be themselves. It requires an inclusive curriculum that affirms the identities of all students and their families.

For this reason, The Lighthouse strongly condemns Florida’s restrictive and deeply damaging law.

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