Florida students walk out over the state’s proposed “Can’t Say Gay” bill, which passed in the the state senate on Tuesday morning.
HB 1557, officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, or the “Can’t Say Gay” bill by its opposers, passed in Florida’s state House of Representatives last month, 69-47. Governor Ron DeSantis has voiced his approval for the bill, but not committed to signing it. Now that it has passed both branches of Florida’s Republican-led legislature, that issue will come up in the next few days. If he approves it, the new law will go into effect in July.
What that means is that, beginning with the start of the 2022-23 school year, teachers of grades K-3 will not be allowed to speak to their students about anything involving sexual orientation or gender identity. Taken to a straw-man extreme, the bill should make it as taboo to read a heterosexual romance like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White as a queer one, but the bill has specified that only the LGBT+ side of orientation and identity is ‘age inappropriate’ for young children.
The bill empowers parents who feel their teacher is in violation to sue the teacher, school, and school district involved.
In response, schools around Florida have organized walkouts in recent weeks. On Monday, over 500 students at Winter Park High School in Orange county walked out.
“We wanted to show our government that this isn’t going to stop,” student organizer Will Larkins told CNN. “There were walkouts all last week. This is going to continue. If this passes, there will be protests everywhere. We wanted to get the attention of our representatives, our senators, because the point is to show them that we are the ones in powers. The people are the ones in powers, and what they’re doing doesn’t represent us, especially marginalized groups.”
Larkins, who is a junior at Winter Park, also testified against the bill on behalf of Florida students before the Senate.