The Dangerous "Don't Say Gay" Bill
By Sarah Mattea Lane, Life Together Fellow
Last week Florida lawmakers passed the bill dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” This bill “prohibits any instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity between kindergarten and third grade…It also calls on school districts to avoid LGBT topics ‘when not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students’.” However, this is not just a Florida problem and is a reflection of nationwide homophobia and transphobia. According to 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.” An increased stigma surrounding queer and trans identities and a decrease in safe spaces to discuss these identities will result in mental health issues in queer youth, and potentially even death. This bill is dangerous.
This bill, which is just waiting on Gov. Ron Desantis’ signature, will isolate LGBTQ youth and is a symbolic act of oppression. In addition to increased mental health concerns, queer youth are also particularly vulnerable to abuse and dating violence. A study titled “Technology, Teen Dating Violence and Abuse, and Bullying” from 2013 highlights this fact.
Of the LGBT respondents:
43 percent reported being victims of physical dating violence, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual youth.
59 percent reported emotional abuse, compared to 46 percent of heterosexual youth.
37 percent reported digital abuse and harassment, compared to 26 percent of heterosexual youth.
23 percent reported sexual coercion, compared to 12 percent of heterosexual youth.
To prevent further abuse, we as a society need to work against homophobia and transphobia. Measures such as the “Don’t Sat Gay” bill further increases negative stigma around these identities and in turn abuse will increases alongside the stigma.
What Can I Do?
Speak out against this bill and other homophobic and transphobic legislature
Speak up when you see homophobia and transphobia
Follow Equality Florida to stay up to date on this specific legislation and what is being done to prevent it: https://www.eqfl.org/
Support organizations that support LGBTQ+ youth Also Youth in Sarasota, Florida - Check out their fundraiser for multiple local FL organizations that support LGBTQ youth BAGLY supports LGBTQ youth in the Boston-area and Boston Glass specifically supports LGBTQ youth of color in Boston.
This list is non-exhaustive and the desire to do something about injustice is a great place to start. There can be no survivor justice while homophobia and transphobia stand strong. We need to come together as a community and work to protect vulnerable populations, like queer youth, now more than ever.