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Florida’s House of Representatives passed a controversial bill on Thursday, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which restricts how teachers and school staff can discuss gender and sexual orientation in the classroom.
The bill is now on its way to the Republican-held Senate. It has already received backing from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
If passed, the legislation would go into effect for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis told reporters at the beginning of the month. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff.”
“The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what’s going on in their schools,” he added.
According to a report from The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
The Biden administration condemned the legislation.
“Make no mistake — this is not an isolated action. Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement. “This is politics at its worse, cynically using our students as pawns in political warfare.”
On Thursday, representatives also passed the “Stop WOKE Act,” to essentially ban the teaching of critical race theory.
“We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards. Finally, we must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired’ training’ and indoctrination,” said DeSantis.