Updated Mar 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Florida lawmakers pass "Don’t Say Gay" bill

person wearing the LGBTQ flag
A rally to push back against the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill on Feb. 2, 2022. Photo: Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After hours of debate on the Senate floor, The Parental Rights in Education Bill — also known as "Don't Say Gay" — has passed through the Florida Senate. It now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk.

Driving the news: HB 1557 would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through 3rd grade. For higher grade levels, the bill says instruction should be "age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate" by state academic standards.

  • It also allows parents to sue schools or teachers that engage in these topics.
  • The bill passed on a Republican majority 22-17.

Of note: Republican Sens. Jeffrey Brandes (St. Petersburg) and Jenn Bradley (Orange Park) voted against the bill.

By the numbers: A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project found that 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and 66% of all LGBTQ youth — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

  • When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student's parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 47% felt nervous and/or scared, 45% felt stressed, and more than 33% felt sad.

What they're saying: LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida released a statement saying it will lead legal action against Florida to challenge the legislation.

  • "We will not permit any school to enforce this in a way that endangers the safety of children," the group said. "We stand ready to fight for Floridians in court and hold lawmakers who supported this bill accountable at the ballot box."

What's next: DeSantis' office has said he hasn't decided whether he would sign the bill or not, but he's defended it several times while speaking to the press.

  • If he signs it, the law would go into effect July 1.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information about the Republicans who voted against the bill, how the LGBTQ+ community feels and what DeSantis might do.

Go deeper