“Don’t Say Gay” bill passes in Florida House

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 5:58 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The Florida House has passed the so called “Don’t Say Gay” bill over the objection of democrats and some Republicans. The debate was among the most passionate of the session.

The bill limits the teaching of sexual and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

For the openly gay members of the house, including Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando and Representative Michelle Rayner, the debate was personal.

“And for those LBGTQ youth in Florida, and around the country, and around the world who are watching,” said Guillermo Smith, “I want to make sure they know this: You are loved. You are supported.”

“I don’t matter” Rayner said. “I walk into a building everyday where I am told I don’t matter. If you vote up on this bill, you are homophobic and transphobic.”

“I am a straight white male.” Representative Michael Grieco, a Democrat from Miami Beach, said.

He thinks the bill will hurt people.

“This is an anti gay bill.”

But Republicans argued the bill is actually living up to its real title: “Parental Rights in Education.”

“The bill, plain as day, states that you can not have instruction, instruction, meaning a curriculum lead by teachers teaching children ages five through nine, about sexual orientation and gender identity” Representative Kaylee Tuck, a Republican from Sebring said. “Think about that.”

Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin, a Republican from Miami, was blunt. “This bill does not out kids. This bill does not prohibit the word gay.”

The final vote was “69 yeas, 47 nays.”

After Thursday’s vote, the bill is halfway through the legislative process.

It has a Senate Committee and Full Senate vote before it can go to the Governor.