Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ stirs up national controversy

The state’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill” eliminates all class discussion about anything sexual including discussions of LGBTQ+ identity for grades K-12. Many disagree with the bill including The Walt Disney Company, whose largest amusement park venue is located in Florida.


By signing the bill on March 28, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put the Parental Rights in Education bill (coined the Don’t Say Gay Bill) into place banning K-3 instruction on anything sexual.
The bill is causing controversy due to the fact that any teachings related to the LGBTQ+ community would fall under the umbrella of anything sexual.
Social studies teacher Amanda Gale said that teachers would essentially not be able to teach about these things in their classrooms.
“The whole [labeling the bill] ‘don’t say gay’ thing came out because one of the things that would be encompassed by the bill are things like same-sex marriage and transgenderism,” Gale said.
According to Gale, the bill was meant to focus on curriculum issues, even though there is currently no curriculum in Florida that includes the subjects mentioned in the bill.
“I think, for the vast majority of students and teachers, it’s not going to make any difference,” Gale said. “There was concern that if you are a gay teacher in Flordia and you have a picture of you and your partner you are not able to talk about that with the students.”
The bill could affect LGBTQ+ staff members along with taking away a safe space for students in the community.
“It’s going to have consequences for the adults and kids at those schools,” junior Lauren McClure said.
Gay-Straight Alliance Co-advisor Allyson Fitzpatrick noticed that the bill is already spreading to other states.
“It looks like up to maybe a dozen states are looking to do something similar,” Fitzpatrick said.
Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, South Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ohio have adapted bills that use similar language to the Parental Rights in Education bill in Flordia.
Junior Joey Beck thinks that similar bills could continue to spread and is concerned, even if they do not.
“It makes me very worried for other states. Even though it might not personally affect me, it affects my community,” Beck said.
In response, The Walt Disney Company issued a statement against the bill.
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” the statement said.
Fitzpatrick was happy the company came out against the bill.
“When I saw that Disney came out against the bill, I was very happy because Disney is a corporation about families and children and magic and kindness,” Fitzpatrick said. “Their movies are all about championing goodness, so I was very happy they were against the bill.”
Beck feels like the statement was more about gaining profits than actual concern for the issue.
“They should have shown their support for the community much sooner than they did and I think the statement that they released did not seem to do much,” Beck said.
As of late, Florida legislatures are looking to revoke Disney’s special tax status.
DeSantis defended the move in an email to supporters saying, “I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.”
The corporation receives special tax status because of the public services they pay for in the area, such as security, a fire department and infrastructure.
Gale said that if they remove the special tax status, the taxpayers in the small towns located near Disney World would then become responsible for paying for these services. “It’s one of those things like ‘Oh, you’re sticking it to Disney’, but you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. It’s definitely a political battle and in that is indirect retribution to their stance on the bill,” Gale said.
Additionally, before Disney’s tax status is removed, the state would also have to pay off its debts to the corporation. “[The Florida government] owe people money, so taxpayers would be on the hook for that as well,” Gale said.
Some people feel the situation between the state and corporation is distracting from the issues that matter. “What is sad is the LGBT issues get lost in that and it becomes a fight against money and power,” Gay-Straight Alliance Co-advisor Jon Timmons said.