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The harms of #DontSayGay

Kelley Labahn

In Florida, a bill proposed by Senator Joe Harding that aims to limit schools’ discussions on sexual orientation and gender is moving through House and Senate. The nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” bill will limit school discussions on any and all LGBTQ issues including history, oppression, debate and anatomy. 

The bill originally contained an amendment that would mandate teachers or administrators to report when a student discloses their sexual identity or orientation to the student’s caregiver. Sen. Harding withdrew the amendment after it was criticized for potentially putting the students in harm’s way. The bill still enacts more harm than good, though, neglecting vulnerable students’ mental health especially as the pandemic already bears down on them.

The bill silences LGBTQ students and parents and creates an environment of shame. A student with two dads would not be able to discuss them in class. Often, especially in conservative states like Florida, students’ only place to feel safe when discovering their sexuality is school. This bill does not aim to protect young minds, but miseducate them with homophobia and transphobia. This takes away years of both progress advocates have been making in public schools, and any safe space LGBTQ students thought they had. Despite the progress this bill is making, President Biden denounced it, tweeting “Instead of making growing up harder for young people, @POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students’ mental health.” 

Don’t be mistaken about the true purpose of this bill. Harding does not care about “parents’ rights to education.” He is looking to take a bold republican stand in the face of an upcoming midterm election. It is a reminder to the voters of Florida that he believes LGBTQ people don’t deserve to be spoken about. The Don’t Say Gay bill is a dangerous way to grasp for money and power that takes away from the mental development and safety of America’s future.


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