We say gay; we’re born this way

Editorial Board

Earlier this month, the LGBTQ+ community took a hit as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1557: the Parental Rights Education bill, though critics are calling it the “Don’t Say Gay bill.”

According to its text, the bill will require district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying a student’s parent of specified information — that information being if they suspect that their student is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Unfortunately, the bill will also prevent topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity from being discussed on school grounds; this does not just apply to students as it also applies to educators and staff members.

Why is this bill harmful? Simply stated, it is discriminatory. It will limit educators’ ability to demonstrate equality and acceptance toward students that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. The bill encourages teachers to out students and could result in a hostile home environment for students with unaccepting parents. It will force students to hide their identity, making them feel alienated, as though there is something wrong with themselves, though that is far from the truth. 

In a Texas Tribune article, Paul Castillo, a senior counsel and students’ rights strategist for Lambda Legal, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ individuals’ civil rights, shared his thoughts on the bill. 

“A similar Texas bill would create a ‘chilling effect’ in classrooms, where teachers might avoid responding to questions about identity for fear of legal punishment,” Castillo said. “Fear is a point; it is not what the legislation actually does.”

Legislators using fear as a tactic to regulate and silence queer youth is blatant hatred. Our government has no respect for the well-being of queer youth — or the general public for that matter. It is a fundamental right to have the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The government officials drafting these policies cannot continue to take that away from our LGBTQ+ community. We must put an end to the discriminatory lineage by voting in representatives who advocate for basic human rights; the future of equality depends on it.