U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has outlined some of the potential dangers of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, especially on LGBTQ+ people and children with gay parents.
Secretary Buttigieg and husband Chasten welcomed twins Penelope and Joseph in late 2021. The new dad, who is also a former teacher, was asked last week about Florida’s H.B. 1557, which has already passed both chambers of the state’s legislature.
Buttigieg said it should “absolutely” be considered a “dangerous” piece of legislation.
“The reason [it is dangerous] is that it tells youth who are different, or whose families are different, that there is something wrong with them out of the gate,” he said. “And I do think that contributes to the shocking levels of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth.”
The bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would ban Florida’s teachers from discussing issues related to gender and sexuality in elementary school classrooms. Queer rights advocates say it would essentially bar any discussion of the existence of LGBTQ+ people in Florida’s schools.
If the “Don’t Say Gay” bill were to pass into law, Sec. Buttigieg explained, families like his would be fundamentally censored from talking about their own parents in school.
“Chasten, my husband, pointed out that if our kids someday… come into class, you know, and kids are sitting around, and the teacher’s got the morning circle talking about how everybody’s weekends went, and one of them says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dads,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘No, we don’t talk about that here’?” Buttigieg asked.
“Any age where it’s appropriate to talk about a kid’s mom and dad, then it should be appropriate to talk about a kid’s mom and mom, or dad and dad, or whatever family structure we live with,” he continued. “That’s part of what it means to be pro-family is to be pro-every family.”
Sadly, Florida's bill is just one in what appears to be a new nationwide trend. So far, there are at least 15 similar bills moving through state legislatures that aim to restrict how school textbooks and curricula teach LGBTQ+ topics, and what teachers are allowed to say around the issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.
For example, a House Bill in Tennessee would ban any textbooks and instructional materials that "promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender lifestyles" in K-12 schools. In Indiana, lawmakers want educators to get parental permission before discussing any form of "sexual orientation," "transgenderism" or "gender identity.”