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The “Parental Rights Education” bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was passed on March 28. Eckerd students expressed frustration, fear and disappointment.

On Monday, Mar. 28, Gov. DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 1557 into law. It’s official title is the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, however it was nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

This bill prohibits non-disclosure to parents, meaning teachers and administration have to disclose information about what happens in the classroom to parents, including a year's worth of lesson plans before the school year starts, unless there is suspicion of abuse or neglect. 

The reason for the bill’s nickname is the clause which prohibits discussions around sexual orientation or gender identity until after third grade. The discussions after third grade must be age-appropriate. The deadline for the state to decide what is age-appropriate is June 30, 2023. This bill also allows parents to sue schools for non-compliance. 

Eckerd students expressed frustration, fear and disappointment in this bill. 

First-year Ariana Policella, whose family lives in Florida, described her discussion with them on the topic. 

“My brother was saying that it kind of makes sense except for the fact that you can tell they’re targeting LGBT kids,” Policella said. 

First-year Ellery Overstreet believes there will be long lasting effects for the students from this bill “If a queer student doesn’t feel safe at home, then they often end up relying on teachers for support. But if their teachers can’t support them, what then?” they said. 

Junior Cait Venancio shared the same concern. 

“It makes me feel scared for the future of education, as it will make kids who belong within the LGBT [community] feel as though their identity or identity of loved ones aren’t valid,” Venancio said. 

First-year Ava Nunziato said she was disappointed about the intention behind the bill. “It saddens me to think about the structures designed to limit young children’s access to sex education and education about their own bodies.” 

First-year Nora Colussy-Estes said they were disappointed, but not surprised. They described their shock at the bill being passed.

“As a queer student at a more progressive school, it really … sucks to know that young kids nearby, as well as families, are going to be in danger and misrepresented.” 

Overstreet believes the intention behind the bill is not protecting parental rights, but instead the silencing of queer people. They mentioned that preventing kids from hearing about subjects regarding LGBTQ+ doesn’t stop them from being LGBTQ+. Rather, they said it just makes kids feel miserable and wrong. 

“We have always been here and we aren’t going anywhere,” Overstreet said. 

Policella said her first thought when she heard about the bill was her friend with two mothers. She describes a letter she received from the friend about the subject: 

“She appreciated the fact that I was so welcoming and open to her when people would make fun of her for having two moms.” Policella wondered how her friend's experience would have been worse if this bill took place during her childhood. 

“If these people actually cared about children, then they never would’ve supported this bill,” Overstreet concluded.


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