11 Simple Questions for Defenders of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill


Florida lawmakers insist that the recently-passed “Parent’s Rights in Education” bill is not a censorship law.

Nor is its purpose to discriminate against LGBTQ folks in the Sunshine State.

Despite opponents labeling the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, supporters swear it doesn’t prohibit teachers or school officials from saying the word gay, or any other word.

In fact, they point out, nowhere in the law do the words “gay” or “transgender” appear.

All lawmakers have done, they insist, is prevent teachers from providing “instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity to students in Kindergarten through third grade.

After that, it requires any such discussions to be “age and developmentally appropriate.”

Who could object to that? They ask.

They then answer their own question: The only people who would oppose such a thing are pedophiles, or “groomers,” hoping to sexualize children for their own perverted ends.

But it’s a dishonest explanation of the law and the intentions of its supporters, as debate during the legislative session demonstrated.

No lawmakers expressed concern that kids were being inappropriately encouraged into heterosexuality by books featuring a mom and dad.

Governor DeSantis didn’t seem worried about a teacher convincing a kid whose biological sex is female that perhaps their gender identity is too.

All the concern was about LGBTQ teachers convincing straight and cis kids to adopt an “alternative” identity to be cool or because they’re impressionable or some such thing.

As we all know, kids are quick to adopt identities that subject them to harassment and violence, just for a goof.

. . .

While the law is vague enough to restrict instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity of any type, including straight and cis identity, it’s obvious how the law would be used — namely, to limit discussion of LGBTQ folks and realities.

And proving that isn’t difficult.

Here are some questions we should ask anyone who says they support the Florida law or copycat laws elsewhere. If answered honestly, their real intentions would become clear (which is why they won’t likely do it, but it’s worth a try).

  1. The law prohibits “instruction” on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3. But since there is no direct or curricular instruction on these subjects in early grades, does this mean there can be no books in K-3 classrooms or libraries with characters who have a clear sexual orientation or gender identity?
  2. If the answer is yes, would this apply only to books with LGBTQ characters, or should books with a mom and dad or characters who present a gender identity that is the same as their birth sex also be removed? After all, both types would amount to introducing matters of sexual orientation and gender identity to students.
  3. Should books involving princes and princesses be removed from K-3 classrooms and libraries since they normalize heterosexuality and raise issues of sexual orientation? If a kid comes to school excited about movies like Tangled or Sleeping Beauty, should a teacher shut them down lest matters of sexual orientation be made salient in class? If not, why not?
  4. Would it constitute inappropriate “instruction” or discussion for a teacher to mention their own sexual orientation or gender identity to students? If the answer is yes, should straight teachers have to remove their wedding rings at work or avoid answering if a child asks if they’re married? Should teachers be prohibited from having pictures of their spouses on their desks or bringing their spouses or partners to school events? Should only LGBTQ teachers have to refrain from demonstrating or discussing their sexual orientation and gender identity, or should the same rules apply to straight and cisgender teachers?
  5. If students discuss their families in class, or make artwork depicting them, would they be allowed to discuss or represent the sex or gender of their family members? If they have same-sex parents, can they discuss or represent them in artwork to be displayed? If so, and a second student asks the first about their two moms or dads, could the teacher explain that some families have parents of the same sex? Or would they have to ignore the question and change the subject?
  6. Since the law prohibits instruction or discussion about gender identity, should all teachers, administrators, and students be required to adopt they/them pronouns since the use of gender-specific pronouns would constitute a form of instruction — namely, the normalization of the male and female gender? If not, why not?
  7. Should teachers whose gender identity is non-binary be forced to go by Mr. or Mrs./Ms. based on their physical presentation, even if those titles don’t correspond with their self-identification? If so, wouldn’t that interject issues of gender identity into the classroom — taking for granted that everyone is the same gender as their physical presentation — and thus violate the law? If they wouldn’t be forced to use pronouns corresponding to their apparent sex and were allowed to go by they/them or use pronouns different from their presentation, wouldn’t that also interject gender identity into the classroom? How should schools resolve the dilemma? Should we ban all pronouns to be safe?
  8. Since the law gives private citizens the right to sue any teacher violating it, won’t fear of being sued intimidate teachers from discussing anything related to LGBTQ identity with students in virtually any grade? Or teaching any book, in any grade, involving LGBTQ themes or characters? There are reports that teachers in Florida have been removing rainbow flags and stickers from their rooms for fear that symbols of tolerance and equity might trigger a lawsuit. Should teachers not be allowed to signal support for LGBTQ persons? How is that consistent with freedom of speech? How is that healthy for LGBTQ students who benefit from having supportive teachers and allies?
  9. Should LGBTQ parents be able to sue any teacher who mentions their opposite-sex spouse, teaches a book with characters who are straight or cis, or expresses their opposition to hormone therapy (or even social transitioning) for trans teens? If not, why not? Do the rights of LGBTQ parents matter less than those of straight and cisgender parents?
  10. If a child is bullied for perceived gay or lesbian sexual orientation or non-gender conforming dress or appearance, should a teacher be allowed to discuss those issues with the students involved? Should they be allowed to explain the inappropriateness of homophobic or transphobic bullying? Or should they be required to stick solely to the inappropriateness of bullying in general?
  11. If a student comes out to a teacher or counselor and expresses concern that their parents might reject them if they knew the child’s orientation or gender identity, should the teacher or counselor be allowed to advise the student? Can they provide information about organizations from which the child might seek support? If they do so without the parent’s permission, should the parent be able to sue the school official?

. . .

Interestingly, Ohio is now considering similar legislation, and threatening to apply the law to all public institutions, including colleges, and even private schools, if they receive public money.

This would include private K-12 institutions that are faith-based and receive public vouchers.

So, given that the law would apply to Christian institutions that accept vouchers, here are two bonus questions that supporters of Ohio’s version might wish to consider.

Bonus Question 1:

Imagine a religiously-affiliated school that accepts public voucher money.

Now, imagine that a teacher or administrator there expresses the opinion that marriage is between a man and woman. After all, this would likely be consistent with the school’s official doctrine of faith.

Should that teacher or school be subject to a lawsuit since such a statement would amount to raising issues of sexual orientation in the classroom? If not, why not?

Bonus Question 2:

Since the law would apply to any religiously affiliated school receiving public money, would those schools now be prohibited from publicizing or voicing their doctrinal beliefs about marriage, sexuality, or gender to students? Would they be forced to remove such statements from their official materials or websites? Would they have to cease all instruction on such matters?

If not, why not, since voicing those beliefs would constitute injecting issues of sexuality into the classroom just as much as making pro-marriage equality and trans-allied statements?

. . .

It should be evident that state lawmakers in Ohio would never tell religiously-affiliated schools that they couldn’t remain true to their doctrinal teachings, even if they received public money.

Those pushing this legislation are not trying to keep the public from subsidizing instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity, per se.

Their only concern is with the discussion of sexual orientations and gender identities that they find abnormal and “morally wrong,” based on their religious beliefs — the latter of which are not supposed to have any place in making public school policy.

These are people whose goal is singular and clear: namely, pushing LGBTQ folks back into the closet.

When they say that the new law in Florida is not about bigotry, they are lying. Everyone who supports the law is anti-gay and transphobic.

They are Fred Phelps, minus the colorful signs and nylon track suit.

And if they had the guts to answer the above questions honestly, that would be obvious to everyone.

This post was previously published on Tim Wise’s blog.


Join The Good Men Project as a Premium Member today.

All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.

A $50 annual membership gives you an all access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.

Register New Account

Log in if you wish to renew an existing subscription.

Choose your subscription level

By completing this registration form, you are also agreeing to our Terms of Service which can be found here.



Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.

Photo credit: iStock


The post 11 Simple Questions for Defenders of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill appeared first on The Good Men Project.

Older Post Newer Post