(NEXSTAR) – President Joe Biden is slamming Florida’s controversial House Bill 1557, dubbed by detractors as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The Republican-backed legislation would ban teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in schools – saying the conversations are not “age appropriate” for primary school students.
While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not officially endorsed the bill, the Republican said Monday that discussions of gender and sexual orientation shouldn’t be happening in schools, elaborating that “Hiding things from the parent, you’re interjecting these concepts about choosing your gender – that is just inappropriate for our schools, and so I don’t support that going on.”
In a Tuesday tweet, Biden wrote:
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”– Pres. Joe Biden
HB 1557, officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, would also allow parents/guardians to sue teachers and/or schools who do discuss the topics with the students. A related bill passed Florida’s Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, Washington Post reports.
Critics argue the bill would further stigmatize and marginalize LGBTQ youth, who are already predisposed to significantly higher mental stress, discrimination and uncomfortable home lives, according to the Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. Seventy-five percent of LGBTQ youth say they’ve experienced sexuality/identity-based discrimination and 42% said they have seriously considered suicide. More than half of non-binary and transgender youth said they had.
These measures come as a flurry of challenges to LGBTQ-referential books in public schools and libraries sweeps the nation, with many books banned or removed from shelves. If passed, HB 1557 – still in the committee phase – would take effect in Florida on July 1.