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Florida's "Don't Say Gay" Bill


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DeSantis, Shapiro & Co. Want To Put My Kid in the Closet


The bill’s supporters aren’t even bothering to hide their intentions with Don’t Say Gay. The case these culture warriors are making for a DADT redux invokes all the wanton cruelty of the bipartisan O.G., but with the added innovation of bounty-style litigiousness that modern day Republicans find so appealing.

Here are the basics of what’s being proposed, where the relevant segment of the legislation is identical in both the House and Senate versions: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

The enforcement section of the legislation takes a cue from the Texas abortion bounty legislation: “A parent of a student may bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates this paragraph and seek injunctive relief. A court may award damages.”

So what exactly constitutes “encouragement” of classroom discussion?

Lets say a teacher asked their students to make a Valentine and the sample he gave was the card he made for his husband. Is that a violation? Or what if a student asked to draw a picture of their two moms? How about if she wanted to make her Valentine to Mirabel Madrigal. Or Spider-Ham? (Ye gods—encouraging bestiality!)

Or what about a project that asks students to complete a family tree? Could my daughter turn in an assignment featuring her two dads? On the anniversary of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando, could a kid whose uncle died there talk about him in class? Could the school assign the reading of My Tio’s Pulse?

The answer to these hypotheticals all hinge on whether a crazy-ass parent of another student sees the valentine or family tree or Pulse book and decides to target the school. In each case, the Don’t Say Gay bill would give our Panhandle Karen something to sue over.

Representative Carlos Smith, the first openly gay member of the state’s legislature, argues that the open-ended nature of the language is a feature, not a bug for those pushing the bill.

“Lawyers are going to be conservative in a way that censors conversations,” he told me. In at least some school districts that is going to “push LGBTQ families back in the closet.” His view is that by keeping the language vague, a better-safe-than-sorry ethos will encourage certain districts to shut down all of these types of conversations.

I know I say it all the time, but this timeline truly sucks.

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