Legislators Are Making Laws That Harm LGBTQIA+ Youth, Again
Time and time again, queer youth voices have been silenced. Historically, legislation has been passed that completely endangers queer youth, i.e. banning trans-inclusive bathrooms and forcing trans athletes to be on teams that align with their assigned gender at birth.
This time, Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was signed into law on March 21 by Governor Ron DeSantis. This bill bans public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom discussions and instruction on sexual orientation and/or gender indentity until students are considered “age or developmentally appropriate.” This isn’t much of a suprise from the state. What is surprising, though, is the late response from the Disney corporation.
Disney has been profiting off queer culture for years. Like most corporations, they sell rainbow merchandise, ranging from pins and plushes to Mickey ears during Pride month. They are aware that many of their employees are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and in the past have taken a stance to protect them, which is why there was a shock when Disney stayed silent on this bill.
In a state with 15% of their gross domestic product (GDP) coming from tourism, Disney is a theme park empire with a huge influence. They also have 38 lobbyists in Florida who could have influenced more legislators to vote against the bill.
Only after the bill was signed into Florida law did Disney speak out against it. Disney’s Ceo Bob Chapek apologized for their silence, saying “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.” Whether this was Disney trying to save face or a political tactic, it definitely blew up in their face, tragically.
Now that the theme park went public with their stance, there has been opposition coming from conservatives, especially from good ‘ole Desantis. He has signed a bill that strips Disney from its status as an independent special district. This takes away Disney’s special privileges of having sole control of their land, consisting of building, maintaining infrastructure, providing municipal services, policing, and providing emergency services.
This is utterly childish on Desantis’ part. I understand if you don’t agree with Disney’s stance and whatnot but deciding to take away Disney’s control over their theme park is a bully tactic. Why can’t politicians be civil towards one another?
This bill only brought more supporters towards Desantis, who is rumored to be interested in running for President in 2024, which again, isn’t surprising. Only this though, is that while he is gaining potential voters, this bill is harming the sole subjects in it: students.
This has caused an outrage amongst students in Florida. Conversations about sexuality and gender identity are the only way to make LBGTQIA+ culture more “normalized.” It’s sad to think that talking about queer cuture to a younger child is deemed as “sexualizing.” Being open about this culture will help our fellow students, who are a part of the community, to feel more comfortable in their sexuality and gender identity and will keep them safe. If children can watch movies about straight couples, what’s the difference if we replace those couples with same-sex couples?
Their arguments regarding learning about sexuality and pronouns only make them look unread. From day one, we are taught about being male and female and about heterosexuality. There aren’t any boycotts or outcry to ban conversations about that. It’s only considered a problem because it goes against “the norm.”
We just need to call it what it is. This is blatant homophobia.
The teachers who engage in discourse about the LGBTQIA+ community with their students aren’t “groomers” who are enabling pedophiles. These comments are old-school homophobic tactics.
America was finally on a progressive wave as we, as a country, are more accenting of queer culure. This isn’t “woke culture” or whatnot. This is harming children, especially LGBTQIA+ kids.
Gen Z is growing in an environment where the stigma about being gay has lessened greatly since the AIDS epidemic. Children are finally accepting themselves wholeheartedly.
Additionally, LGBTQIA+ students are more than four times more likely to commit suicide than their queers and suicide is the leading cause of death in among young people (thetrevorproject).
We need to protect our LGBTQIA+ students. We need to love our LGBTQIA+ children.