Marczynski: Don’t Say Gay bill oppresses LGBTQ students

Larry Marczynski

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Don’t Say Gay bill – formally known as Parental Rights in Education – into legislation on Monday, continuing a long history of LGBTQ oppression. 

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill bans the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. 

This could harm future generations of LGBTQ students like myself and could force them to live deeply in the closet for years. 

Causing them to be scared of being themselves. 

Making them live in fear to be who they are. 

I know what this feels like, being afraid to be seen as who you truly are.

If there is a third grader who is gay, they will be told not to talk about it – to avoid the topic.

This could cause their mental health to decline. According to the Williams Institute of Law, LGBTQ people are 88% more likely to attempt suicide. The Parental Rights in Education bill will only cause this rate to increase.

Allowing this bill to pass risks setting a precedent for other schools across America. 

But this is not Florida’s first time oppressing LGBTQ students.

 In 1956, the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee – commonly known as the John’s Committee – was founded during the height of the Cold War.

This committee was formed to resegregate schools, when it failed to do so, it switched to another target – gay students and faculty members. 

Committee operatives attempted to lure potential gay men into having sex and force them to be expelled from the school. They trapped men in motel rooms, interrogated them, stalked and tormented them until they eventually admitted they were gay.

The John’s Committee fired 39 faculty members and expelled 71 college students, outing them to their friends and family. 

In 2019, D Sen. Laruen Book presented to the House a formal apology for the state’s action, according to the Florida Senate website, the request was “indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration” in 2020. 

With the Don’t Say Gay bill, Florida is repeating the past and regressing to the 1950’s ideologies – almost 70 years back– any persecution of LGBTQ individuals should be an outrage to everyone.

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” – George Snatayana, and now Florida is repeating it’s history of LGBT oppression in schools.