Over the past few weeks, the LGBTQ community has fought the proposed Florida House Bill 1557, coined the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill has since passed through both the House and Senate and is awaiting a signature from the Governor, which seems likely.
What The Bill Says
Since some of our readers may not be aware of this new legislation, we thought we’d make sure all are on the same page before sharing a few words on behalf of OutCoast.com.
- Florida House Bill 1557 is an act relating to Parental Rights in Education.
- The Bill prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary school grade levels K-3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
- The Bill assures parents the right to be involved with healthcare decisions for students.
- The Bill states that health care forms given to students must be screened by parents first.
- The Bill requires faculty and staff to communicate with parents about any changes in health care services, or mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.
- The Bill allows parents to bring actions against the school if the above are violated.
We encourage everyone to read the full bill here.
Ok… But Why Does It Matter?
The concerns from LGBTQ people and allies are that this bill will silence LGBTQ youth in Florida and create an unsafe space for LGBTQ youth to ask questions and seek support.
There is also a fear that the broad wording of this bill will give extremists the ability to abuse and misuse this bill in an attempt to erase LGBTQ people and topics from teachings all together.
And there is an added concern that transgender youth, who may exhibit signs of trans identity during early ages, may not receive the appropriate support needed during this critical stage. As a result, students may exhibit signs of depression and anxiety which could lead to suicide in later ages.
You can read more about gender identity development stages here.
We are 100% opposed to Florida House Bill 1557 being passed as written. We understand that this is a complicated topic. Parents should have the right to be involved in their children’s lives and have a say on what is learned in school. None of us want children learning about mature topics too soon. But, as worded, this bill singles out LGBTQ people and provides too many opportunities for abuse, discrimination and hate while putting LGBTQ youth, especially transgender students, at risk.
Don’t Go Away – Say “Gay” In Florida
We have received several messages from readers and followers voicing concerns about our continued support and promotion of travel to Florida. We understand how our support may come across to LGBTQ advocates fighting this bill. We assure you that we are on your side.
We urge you to keep coming to Florida. Don’t wave the white flag or flee this beautiful state! Wave your rainbow flag proudly instead! We feel that it is more important now than ever to travel to Florida – to say “gay” in the sunshine state.
We have traveled all over the state of Florida, holding hands and proudly waving our rainbow flag. We have experienced nothing but welcoming smiles. We are not blind to the fact that there are hateful people here, too. Hate can be found everywhere. But so can love! And we are aware that our experience isn’t everyone’s experience. But there are more open arms than closed doors in Florida – we promise!
Please be assured that visitor bureaus throughout the state are making changes to policies and marketing to better support and open doors to LGBTQ travelers. Florida is already filled with several LGBTQ destinations, including Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, St Pete, Orlando, and Miami. Areas like Mount Dora, Delray Beach, DeLand, Naples, Jacksonville, and others have made huge steps in the right direction toward inclusion.
If travelers avoid Florida, and we stop being present in areas that need the most work, then how do we win? If we avoid Florida, we all fail. The work must continue. There are LGBTQ business owners and tourism leaders that rely on Florida tourism. So don’t stop visiting! Bring your flags and #SayGay all over the sunshine state!
A Note to Florida Business Owners
If you are a Florida business owner or leader and want to know how you can better support the LGBTQ community, please reach out to us! We’re here to help all who want to make the sunshine state a more welcoming destination for all!
Learn more about LGBTQ welcoming destinations in the Florida.