UTAH (ABC4) – A new bill that’s been said to criticize the LGBTQ+ community has been moved forward in the state of Florida nearing the end of Jan. 2021. 

According to an ABC News article, the proposal has been dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by LGBTQ+ advocates. If passed, the document would put restrictions on classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity while allowing parents to sue teachers and schools if they engage in these topics of conversation with their children. 

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, the executive director of the national LGBTQ youth advocacy group GLSEN, spoke out regarding the matter with ABC News, sharing, “This would erase LGBTQ+ history and culture from lesson plans and it sends a chilling message to LGBTQ+ young people and communities.” 

Heather Wilkie of the Zebra Coalition, a Central Florida LGBTQ advocacy group, emphasized to ABC News the prioritization of queer issues and access to supportive resources by anti-LGBTQ+ protesters. Wilkie disclosed that this has been a heightened effort since the Pulse nightclub shooting of 2016. 

The new bill goes a step beyond queer issues, implying to students that their gender identities and sexual orientations are things to be embarrassed and ashamed of.  

“When you have laws like this, that directly attack our kids for who they are, it prevents them from learning,” Wilkie shared with ABC News. “It prevents them from being able to be healthy.”

The article in reference has confirmed that the two bills titled HB 1557 and SB 1834 state that a school district “may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The bills add that parents concerned with teachers violating these rules are eligible to sue. 

The bill has since been moved forward for analysis by the Judiciary Committee. 

Upon reflection, 2021 proved to be a record-breaking year for anti-LGBTQ legislation, as pointed out by ABC News. Of the 250 anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced this past year, 17 were enacted into law. 

As stated in the article, several American states have jumped ahead of Florida in introducing these sorts of laws, including Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and South Dakota. 

It’s been acknowledged that LGBTQ+ minors in the state of Florida have been struggling as a result of these bills. 

“We will continue to fight,” Wilkie told ABC News. “It’s so disheartening to think that they would not be able to freely talk about themselves, or learn anything about their history.