Don’t Say Gay

We Say Gay protest held outside of Florida School District, in response to the passing of the legislation. Provided by Creative Commons.

We Say Gay protest held outside of Florida School District, in response to the passing of the legislation. Provided by Creative Commons.

On March 28, Florida Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis signed and passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was placed into effect among all Florida K-3 schools, banning the educating of the LGBTQIA+ community and its history.

The legislation states that classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur. The bill itself provides vague ruling for how far this banning extends to other grade levels, leaving the decision of approval and compliance up to the Florida Department of Education and the student board committees. Along with the education ban of the LGBTQIA+ community, the bill also states that any “discussion” on that matter or subject is prohibited within the classroom and among school grounds.

The bill has established controversy among all school districts nationwide. President Biden recently addressed the bill, calling it “hateful.” 

“The new legislation is nothing but teaching queer youth to be upset about themselves, to look in the mirror and believe that they are wrong,” says Senior Aedean Brown. As a leader of WHS Strive for Change, an organization that combats harassment in school, Brown is involved in initiatives to support members of the LGBTQIA+ community at Woodgrove. 

“Making Woodgrove a safe space for everyone in the community should be a top priority, and from what I’ve seen so far, we are on the right path,” says Brown. 

WHS Strive for Change recently hosted a “We Are One” walkout on campus as a form of protest against this legislation. Junior Naida McCoy says she saw “overwhelming positivity and support for the event.” Along with the walkout, WHS Strive for Change is collaborating with Woodgrove’s Gay Straight Alliance Club to raise awareness and encourage allies to take action.

“The best things allies can do right now is acknowledge that this law is a travesty, listen to the queer community, and donate to organizations that are meant to help queer youth,” says Senior Emma Thompson, a leader of the GSA club. 

Many schools across the Florida area have conducted walkouts in both middle and high schools to show their disdain for the passing of the bill and their support to their LGBTQIA+ peers. Students who organize these events, such as Jack Petocz, a senior at Palm Coast High School in Tallahassee, Florida, face repercussions and suspension for speaking out. 

Major names in the media have also shared their thoughts on this issue. Disney stated that the bill “is unfairly targeting gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and transgender kids and families.” The company is now working to push the Florida legislature to retract the bill saying that they want to be “on the right side of history.”

Overall the writing and passing of the bill “Don’t Say Gay” has struck up conversatons across the country amongst many students and families.