It’s been almost two years since Ron DeSantis signed “Don’t Say Gay” into law. He promised it’d keep children from “turning” gay – and it has.
Children are still not turning gay.
But they are also no better off. Certainly they’re not more “protected.” Nor are their teachers.
In the case of the latter, teachers are banned from giving “classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.” Some school districts have interpreted this as limiting teachers rights to personal expression as well.
Time Magazine detailed one example. In Orange County (Orlando), teachers were told they couldn’t display rainbow flags or photos of same-sex partners in the classroom. The Orange County School District later “clarified” that such materials could remain, but the damage was done.
“The fact that someone has to say to these teachers that you can have a picture of your spouse on your desk, shows the environment they’re having to work in…the environment … doesn’t feel safe,” President of Orange County Teacher’s Union Clinton McCracken said.
And this says nothing of how it feels for the students, themselves. Forget feeling accepted or safe, research suggests LGBT students might actually be in danger because of “Don’t Say Gay.”
A 2021 study by the Trevor Project found that 42% of LGBTQ youth “seriously considered attempting suicide” over a one-year period. This number dropped when subjects had access to “spaces that affirmed” their orientations and identities.
Amit Paley, former CEO of the Trevor Project, summed up these findings in light of “Don’t Say Gay”: “When lawmakers treat LGBTQ+ topics as taboo … it only adds to the existing stigma and discrimination which puts LGBTQ+ young people at a greater risk for bullying, depression, and suicide.”
Protecting the children, indeed.