“Don’t Say Gay” Bill Expansion


Phelan M Ebenhack

LGBTQIA+ advocates at the Walt Disney Company in protest of the Don’t Say Gay bill.

Allison Walze, Reporter

On March 31st, the annual Transgender Day of Visibility, the Florida House of Representatives passed an expansion of the Don’t Say Gay bill (HB 1069), with the vote being 77-35, and now it passes onto the Senate to be voted on.

The expansion will ban all discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity up to the 8th grade in Florida public schools. The bill also prohibits school staff or students from referring to people’s preferred pronouns that don’t correspond to the person’s sex at birth and will prohibit employees from asking students about their preferred pronouns.

In addition, any book that gets a complaint about a book containing sexual conduct will be pulled off shelves within a five-day period. During this time the book will remain unobtainable to students in schools until a committee resolves the issue. Any compliant out of state, including those that are not parents or have student in the education system, can have a book pulled from the shelves.

During the voting, Republicans had called the bill an important expansion in parent’s rights for their children’s education and not an Anti-LGBTQIA+ bill. In response to criticism about it trapping teachers and limits education, Republican Representative Ralph Massullo stated, “This bill doesn’t demonize teachers, it actually liberates them. What this bill does is allow teachers to teach.”

The main argument Republicans use in support for the bill is that discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity should be left to parents. Republican Representative Chase Tramont voiced that the bill was, “pro-family, it is pro-teacher, it is pro-education.”

Democratic Representatives have strongly expressed their opposition to the bill, claiming the bill is anti-LGBTQIA, restricts parents’ rights and those of teachers. Democratic Representative Marie Woodson argued that the “expansion of the original ‘don’t say gay’ bill will continue to cause confusion, fear and even more problems than we had with the original bill,” and added on, “this bill does nothing but tell certain parts of our community in Florida that they don’t exist.”

Another Democratic Representative, Ashley Gantt, said “there is no recourse for parents to advocate for their students or for their child in school to be addressed as they desire. And I think that is a failure in this bill for parents and parents’ rights.” Republican Representatives Demi Busatta and Will Robinson have voted against the bill’s passing.

In addition, the bill, will force all schools from grade levels K-12 to define gender as a biological trait that cannot be changed, and that referring to anyone with a pronoun that does not correspond with birth sex is false. If the bill passes, DeSantis looks to expand it further, all the way through the 12th grade.

People are torn as the expansion goes to the Senate floor for debating and voting. While some believe the bill is progress in parental rights, there is argument that this is just another anti-progressive piece of legislation and limits basic human rights.