Biden officials meets with Florida LGBTQ+ students amid Don’t Say Gay passage
The bill bans classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the state.
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On Thursday, March 17, Biden officials held a closed-door meeting with several Florida LGBTQ+ students and their families to discuss the state’s so-called Don’t Say Gay bill.
The Parental Rights in Education Act, which has already passed in Florida’s House and State Legislature, would ban any classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s primary schools.
While proponents of the measure claim it is intended to give parents greater control over their child’s education, critics say the legislation would prevent youths and teachers from openly talking about themselves and their families.
The Biden administration has already denounced the efforts as "hateful."
"Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children's safety, protection, and freedom," the White House said in a statement Feb. 8.
"This administration won’t stand for bullying or discrimination of any kind, and we will use our authorities to protect, support, and provide opportunities for LGBTQI+ students and all students," Sec. of Education Miguel Cardona said. https://t.co/fEO2Kg58w1— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) March 18, 2022
Miami high school student Javier Gomez, who attended the meeting, was quoted saying that life is difficult enough being an LGBTQ+ student in the state, due to bullying from his peers.
“This legislation will compound this problem and make life even more difficult for LGBTQ students,” Gomez said.
During Thursday’s virtual roundtable, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and the assistant secretary of health and human services, Dr. Rachel Levine, reaffirmed their support for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.
“My message to you is that this administration won’t stand for bullying or discrimination of any kind, and we will use our authoroities to protect, support, and provide opportunities for LGBTGQI+ students and all students,” Cardona said.
Earlier this week, Cardona took to Twitter to defend the civil rights of LGBTQ+ students, stating that according to Title IX, students are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the fight to protect the rights of #LGBTQ students in Florida, Education Secretary @MiguelCardona took to Twitter to publicly criticize Gov. Ron DeSantis for the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. #AlDiaNews https://t.co/pOAXXmbKrE— aldianews (@ALDIANews) March 17, 2022
“We're going to lift up their voices and make sure that they recognize that our schools are for them and that they have the same opportunity any other students have. So not only in funding, but in policy and how we use the bully pulpit,” Cardona wrote on Monday, March 14.
Levine and Cardona also shared with students and families the mental health resources that are currently available for these students.
“The President supports equality and works to ensure everyone is represented. And that gives people a voice, a chance to effect change, to help people understand the diverse needs of our nation,” Levine said.
Levine, who is the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official, told the students and families that “our communities have a champion in President Biden.”
With a background in pediatrics and public health, @HHS_ASH Rachel Levine has dedicated her career to improving access to healthcare. A barrier breaker, she also is the first openly transgender official confirmed by the U.S. Senate. #WomensHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/WnilNSlY7J— Swing Left (@swingleft) March 11, 2022
The legislation would go into effect July 1 if it is signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has signaled his support for the measure several times.
Legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community has sent shockwaves throughout the U.S.
States continue to debate whether trans youth should receive gender-affirming health care, whether trans girls should be allowed to play girls' sports, or whether LGBTQ+ content can be taught in schools.
These targeted attacks towards the nation’s LGBTQ+ community have spurred responses not only from the White House and public officials, but celebrities as well.
Pop singer Hayley Kiyoko, often referred to as the ‘Lesbian Jesus’ by her fans, took to social media on Friday, March 18, to share her disappointment with Florida’s legislature, and to validate the experiences of her fellow LGBTQ+ community members.
I love my LGBTQIA+ family with all of my heart 🌈 needed to get this off of my chest. pic.twitter.com/4EHilfmqD4— Hayley Kiyoko (@HayleyKiyoko) March 18, 2022
“I’ve known I was gay since kindergarten. And even then, I was forced to process that there was no place for me, that I had to hide to get by. If school districts normalized our existence and LGBTQ+ history, lives would be saved,” Kiyoko wrote.
Addressing those in power who support these bills, Kiyoko made sure to mention that everyone is watching them choose to stand on the wrong side of history.
“No matter what fear tactics you use to silence us, we will always find a way to be there for each other. You are fighting back just by being you and that scares them,” Kiyoko said.