Posted on: April 8, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Sarah Schudt

Imagine two young children. One feels like he might be gay, but he is growing up in a home that is less than accepting of that. The other feels like she’s sad all of the time, and her family doesn’t believe her. Both of these kids would like to seek counseling from their school.

Under the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, which requires parents to be informed when a child seeks out mental health services, both of these children would be reported to their parents.

The homophobia built into this law is horrible in itself. The first child might be disowned, convinced to hide his identity or even sent to conversion therapy. But it also could mean that a kid who is just depressed or has a rough relationship with a parent would be reported home, which could make that situation worse as well.

Rosie Finnegan

Opinion Editor

Florida recently passed HB 1557, being referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which directly goes against any progress the country has made in terms of the LGBTQ community. Laws like these show students that they should be ashamed of who they are, and that they do not deserve to have safe spaces. The laws will dangerously discourage kids from getting the help they need.

This bill prevents the teaching of anything regarding sexual orientation or gender identity to students aged kindergarten through third grade, and allows parents to sue schools over teachings that they do not agree with. It also requires that teachers report home when any student receives mental health services. Lawmakers say that this is so that parents know when a child is struggling, but it functions under the assumption that all parents are accepting and will not be upset when finding out that their child is not heterosexual and cisgender. 

Children should be at the forefront of any education decision. But this bill only seems to concern itself with the interests of the parents, and the kids aren’t even an afterthought.

Protestors fighting against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.

And if adults are to be considered so heavily, then why are the opinions of LGBTQ teachers not being taken into account? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, likened the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity to grooming, and claimed that anyone against the bill is likely a pedophile. This attitude makes the new legislation damaging not only to gay kids, but gay teachers as well.

It also brings up the question of what is considered “discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Could a teacher simply mentioning a marriage to someone of the same sex result in penalty? Now, asking an LGBTQ teacher to work in a Florida school could be asking them to leave their whole identity at the door. A school would likely not restrict a heterosexual teacher from discussing their spouse.

According to NPR, it doesn’t stop at Florida. There is already a law in place in Alabama, and Ohio, Louisiana and Texas have been inspired by HB 1557.

This dangerous trend must be stopped.

If families have shown homophobic tendencies, children will likely look to other trusted adults outside of their homes. But under these new laws, no place will be safe for them anymore.

Confidentiality is important when it comes to mental health services, and often children are unable to see personal therapists due to financial or family reasons. So if a student’s only option is to go to a school counselor, and the school counselor has to report everything to the home, students will likely no longer feel safe seeking out these services, no matter what the issue is.

Students should feel comfortable enough to be their true selves in school. And they should feel comfortable seeking help from school professionals for their mental health without having to worry about the repercussions at home.