“More fearful and less free”
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock Karine Jean-Pierre
With pride month in the rearview mirror, Florida has taken a right turn in its recognition of the LGBTQ+ community.
The first day of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Lawenacted through the controversial ‘Parental Rights in Education’ Bill which Governor Ron DeSantis signed in Marchschools already look and feel different — and according to the White House, the changes aren’t for the better.
“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free,” the White House press secretary said. Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a statement Friday. “As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion freedom are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans to simply be themselves.”
The law in question aims to erase influences in the classroom that “are not appropriate for the age or development of students” in third grade and below. Although the law’s language remained relatively vague, it was written to exclude LGBTQ+ people from the conversation.
“Already there have been reports of ‘Safe Space’ stickers being removed from classrooms. Teachers are being instructed not to wear rainbow clothes. Those on my own desk,” Jean- Rock, who is openly gaysaid in the statement.
Americans across the country have spoken out against the new rule, noting that it would further harm already marginalized children who rely on the safety of school to speak out. Some say if this results in LGBTQ+ topics being removed from textbooks – which legal experts have determined as a possibility based on the wording of the bill – it will be decrease the quality of student education.
The law was designed as a parental rights bill that gives parents the ultimate decision on what their children should learn about topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity, but the critics are not Okay.
“It’s not a question of ‘parental rights’. It’s discrimination pure and simple,” said Jean-Pierre. “This is part of a disturbing and dangerous national trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting students, educators and LGBTQI+ individuals to score political points.”
She continued: “It encourages bullying and threatens the mental health, physical safety and well-being of students. It censures dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students. And it must stop.”
The Trevor Projectan organization focused on preventing suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, said the bill will erase “LGBTQ identity, history and culture – as well as LGBTQ students themselves.”
The nonprofit noted that LGBTQ+ youth who have access to spaces that affirm their sexual orientation and gender identity have lower rates of suicide attempts than those who do not.
“President Biden made it very clear that every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom,” said Jean-Pierre. “The Department of Education will monitor this law, and any student or parent who believes they are being discriminated against is encouraged to file a complaint with the Departmental Office of Civil Rights.
“Our administration will continue to fight for the dignity and opportunity of every student and family, in Florida and across the country.”