On Monday Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill, known to many as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The vague bill provides a wide net for anti-LGBTQ+ action within Florida schools, saying “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” This will not just effect kindergarten through 3rd grade students, but instead will have a chilling effect on all classrooms as teachers try and uphold the nebulous standard of “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” LGBTQ+ students, on average, come out to their teachers and classmates up to a year before they do so at home. This bill not only makes it harder for teachers to speak on queer topics but also specifically targets this trend, endangering students health and well being by requiring teachers to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students to their guardians with no consideration for the students wishes or safety.
This bill is part of a national trend that is targeting and bullying LGBTQ+ students through school and government policies. Across the country we are seeing anti-LGBTQ+ groups, political figures, and pundits organize to make the lives of LGBTQ+ people, especially students, more and more difficult. From harassing student athletes to censoring teachers we are seeing hate weaponized in our civic and social institutions. It’s not just happening in Florida and Texas but all across the country, including the state of Michigan. This is why we launched our Tag Me In campaign to get more community members involved in local advocacy.
One of our partner organizations, Prism Detroit, is sponsoring a student led march in solidarity against Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill. We are inspired by the student’s desire to stand up for their peer’s rights while also showing their community leaders where they stand. If you are in the Detroit area we strongly encourage you to join them on Friday, April 1st.
If you would like to get involved with what the OutCenter is doing in Southwest Michigan, visit our Tag Me In page to sign up!