Florida, with potential repercussions throughout the nation, as the state’s “don’t say gay” law goes into effect, restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.The ugly law has an ugly history, with a Florida state senator saying too many kids are coming out as gay, another claiming that being LGBTQ+ is not a permanent state, and the governor’s press secretary saying its opponents are grooming children for sexual abuse.Along the way, however, those opponents expressed themselves fearlessly, with students and Disney workers staging walkouts, a gay senator offering a tearful floor speech, and a graduating high school senior managing to deal with the issue in his commencement address without saying “gay.”Versions of the legislation, officially titled Parental Rights in Education, were introduced in the Florida House and Senate in January.
Dennis Baxley, chief sponsor of the Senate version, claimed he simply wanted to increase parents’ involvement in their children’s schooling.
However, in a March debate on the issue, Baxley, a Republican with a deeply anti-LGBTQ+ record, raised concerns about young people coming out as gay or anywhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.“Why is everybody now all about coming out when you are in school?” he said. “There really is a dynamic of concern about how much of this are genuine type of experiences and how many of them are just kids trying on different kinds of things they hear about and different kinds of identities and experimenting. … All of the sudden we’re having all these issues come up about this topic of their sexuality and gender.
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