The impact of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on students


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Sarah Bergin, Staff Writer

Florida’s house of representatives has passed legislation that hinders conversation on gender and sexual identity in elementary schools throughout the state.

NPR reported that the statehouse passed this bill on Feb. 24, with a vote of 69-47. This legislation would ban lessons on gender or sexuality from kindergarten to third grade. They also reported on HB 1557, quoting that it can also forbid instruction “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”


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HB 1557 also states that parents will have complete access to their child’s records. These institutions are ordered to tell parents “if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being and the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.”

Although this legislation does give power to the schools in this regard, it is also up to their discretion to keep information private if they believe that the parents would abuse the child.

University junior Emma Jackson said, “Teachers can play a vital role in how students feel about themselves – both academically and regarding self-confidence. If you don’t have that grounded trust from the get-go, students aren’t going to have any outlet to express how they feel, which could lead to significant mental health issues down the road or even now.”

The bill’s main sponsor is Republican state representative Joe Harding. Harding represents District 22, but his current term is set to end in Nov. 2022. His past career experience has been as an owner of a business. He won the 2020 general election of his district with 64.5 percent of the votes.

The Nov. 2022 midterm elections are rapidly approaching in which politicians tend to make choices that will gain more votes during this time. Representative Harding is not attempting to retrieve the Democratic and LGBTQA+ vote but is instead attempting to appeal to the Republicans who voted him in during the general election in 2020.

The U.S. also has other bills that will affect the LGBTQA+ community, including Texas’ legislation on transgender minors. NBC News reports that Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, is asking citizens to turn in parents of minors to the state if they are being tended to for gender-affirming medical reasons.

Caroline Tesoro, a junior majoring in Asian Studies, stated, “This bill erases the identity of all LGBTQA+ kids in Florida. They are all going to be treated much differently if the law goes into effect.”

Being from Florida, Tesoro had some insight into Florida’s intention for doing this. “I think Florida’s purpose for passing this bill is to endanger children who are or may be LGBTQA+ and to force traditional ideas on the next generation.”

If the “Don’t Say Gay” bill goes into effect, it will do so on July 1. This means that it will impact young students who are enrolled for the 2022-2023 school year.

There has been retaliation against the bill from many students around the University. Some are protesting in support of the LGBTQA+ community, donating to influential organizations, and spreading awareness of the cause. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis might receive this bill on his desk and has the power to sign it.

Students and educators alike can be impacted by this bill. The representatives involved may be trying to achieve votes from their Republican supporters with this bill, but they are putting a community of students at risk in the process.

Carlos Guillermo Smith, Democratic Representative for Florida’s House, brought up research from The Trevor Project to promote the LGBTQA+ community on Twitter, stating that identifying youth are four times “more likely to seriously consider, make a plan for, or attempt suicide than their peers AND that at least one LGBTQ youth aged 13–24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S.”

Pace University students, Floridian residents, and others nationwide are speaking up against this bill to stop it from going into action.

If you or someone you know needs resources regarding this topic, reach out to the LGBTQA+ Center below:

LGBTQA+ Center Information:

41 Park Row

Room 902 and Room 903

Phone: (212) 346-1952

Email: [email protected]