Sunday, July 21, 2024

“Don’t Say Gay” Bill Significantly Affects Black & Latinx Queer Students

Queer students of color in Florida have been feeling the burden after the passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the State. This bill bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity, stating that “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Zen Nelson (they/them) an Afro-Latinx eight grader from Miami, said they have been subjected to homophobic slurs from their classmates for years. They have never reported it to the school administrators because they fear that their complaints won’t be heard over those of the white, wealthier kids who harass them.

“Every day, every class, I make a choice on, ‘Am I going to speak out about this? Every time, when I make that choice, it is terrifying … the passage of this bill will exacerbate everything that makes me scared to go to school,” Zen, 13, expressed.

A 2019 survey from the LGBTQ youth advocacy group GLSEN found that most LGBTQ students in Florida regularly hear anti-LGBTQ remarks from other students, with 94% saying they have heard “gay” being used in a negative way, and 72% saying they have heard negative remarks about trans students.

According to another survey administered by GLSEN and the National Black Justice Coalition, more than half of Black LGBTQ students feel unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Advocates explain that the “Don’t Say Gay” bill will have a significant effect on students of color.

Earlier this month, students all over Florida walked out of schools in protest of the legislation.

Raymond Adderly, a Black student who’s a senior at Fort Lauderdale High School and attended the walkout, said students reject the legislation because it significantly harms the LGBTQ community.

“The response here has been: ‘Absolutely no, we don’t want this bill to pass. We don’t want this bill to be signed.’ That has been the loudest cry from students across this district.” Adderly stated.

NBC News