LGBTQ+ youth are already underrepresented in school curriculums, including sex education, says sexuality educator Erica Smith. “Being left out of sex education already has dire consequences for queer and trans youth, as they deal with higher rates of unwanted sexual health outcomes than straight and cisgender youth do,” Smith says. “But banning the mere mention of any queer and trans identities only serves to shroud their identities in shame, silence, and secrecy – this is a very clear and explicit message that LGBTQ+ identities are unacceptable. This messaging will undoubtedly contribute to the already high rates of mental health struggles, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide among queer youth.”
"This messaging will undoubtedly contribute to the already high rates of mental health struggles, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide among queer youth.”
David Clark, lawyer and partner at The Clark Law Office, believes the bill has some merits. It fundamentally protects parents' and legal guardians' right to parent their children. However, Clark says, it also further limits the community's education system when schools should be a safe and sensible space for discussions regarding the issues that impact today's youth.
“This Florida bill's provision requiring educators and administrators to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students to their parents without their consent also infringes LGBTQ+ rights,” Clark says. “The bill secures greater parenting autonomy and influence to parents and legal guardians by stripping the community and their LGBTQ+ children of their very rights to freedom of self-expression. This ultimately is a loss for the LGBTQ+ community, providing less power to each individual on the control over their sexual orientation and the self-determination of how, when, and where they should address them to external parties.”
Despite the GOP’s latest attempt to promote bigotry, Smith points out that, in reality, 85% of parents surveyed supported discussion of sexual orientation as part of sex education in high school. “It's a small vocal minority who does not, and they are leading this charge,” she says.
Read: How to Teach Sex Education at Home
Smith fears this legislation will embolden the homophobic and transphobic vocal minorities in other states to push for similar legislation. “The state of schools, especially including sex ed curriculums, is already dire for queer youth. This is the last thing they need.”
“The state of schools, especially including sex ed curriculums, is already dire for queer youth. This is the last thing they need.”