In a 22 to 17 vote, The Florida House and Senate passed the Parental Rights and Education bill, more commonly known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, in 2022. The bill is designed to restrict and limit information that can be taught in Florida schools regarding sexual orientation and gender. The piece of legislation explicitly states that students cannot be taught about sexual orientation and gender from Kindergarten to Third grade, and the bill even allows for parents to sue schools and/or teachers that participate in the teaching of sexual orientation and/or gender. The recently passed piece of legislation is an example of revisionist history to serve a political agenda, and is extremely harmful to queer youth. Without equal representation within classrooms, the rights of LGBTQIA+ students are compromised. Instead of the Florida public schools acting as a safe place for LGBTQIA+ students, the state is playing a major role in perpetuating falsehoods about sexual orientation, alluding to the notion that heterosexuality is all they need to know. Unfortunately, the majority of House and Senate government officials in Florida believe that sexuality should not be discussed in schools, and that conversations regarding orientation should only be discussed at home.
Despite countless protests, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in March of 2022. According to NPR, when referring to education surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues, Governor DeSantis said that "it's not something that's appropriate for any place, but especially not in Florida '' ( Diaz, 2022). While the piece of legislation is incredibly discriminatory, the bill is dangerous because it creates a baseline for other states, cities and counties to introduce ‘copy cat’ legislation that will further marginalize LGBTQIA+ communities. LGBTQIA+ movements have made incredible advancements throughout the last 60 years, but bills like this cast a dark cloud over past significant advancements made within the United States. The bill follows the recent leaked draft of a possible Supreme Court ruling that could deny abortions to millions of people throughout the county. Laws that protect the LGBTQIA+ community, along with reproductive rights have often been a target of conservative political agendas, despite a majority of the U.S. not supporting these agendas.
With Roe v. Wade being overturned by The Supreme Court in 2022, many people are asking if marriage equality will be next? History tells us that when social advancements occur within the United States, there is an even larger resistance that follows. It often feels like we take one step forward and then two steps back. Only time will tell the future of LGBTQIA+ representation in the United States, but vigilance on the part of equal rights advocates must remain. The resistance against equal rights is often steeped in discriminatory and false ideologies about gay people as a whole, and also claiming that liberals are grooming children to be gay. The Human Rights Campaign published an analysis of the US Census Bureau’s reporting, which showed that over 20 million people identified as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, or nearly 10% of the American population. While the demographics of the United States are changing rapidly, and more people are feeling safe to be open about their sexual orientation, LGBTQIA+ people are still facing discrimination. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 20% of the incidents of hate crimes in the U. S. are based on sexual orientation. Sadly, as more legal rights and privileges are conferred to LGBTQIA+ community, backlash sometimes follows.