Anger about Florida’s sex education and parental rights bill, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” is at an all-time high after Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed it into law Monday.
But supporters of the bill say much of that anger is displaced, and is creating a false narrative around what HB 1557 is really about.
On Tuesday morning, “READ THE BILL” was trending on Twitter, with many proponents of the bill charging its critics with failing to take the time to read the text of the new legislation, and choosing to push political narratives proven untrue by the text of the bill.
Over the past several days, everyone from high-level politicians to worldwide celebrities have used their platforms, including the 94th annual Academy Awards, to charge the GOP with supporting a bill they say prevents the use of the word “gay” in schools and creates a hostile, non-inclusive environment for gay individuals in the state of Florida.
“Does it say that in the bill? Does it say that in the bill? I’m asking you to tell me what’s in the bill, because you are pushing false narratives,” DeSantis responded earlier this month when a reporter called HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“It says it bans classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation,” the reporter shot back.
“For who?” DeSantis responded. “For grades pre-K through three. So five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds, and the idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that, and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you because you peddle false narratives."
After DeSantis’s signing Monday, Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown released a video Monday calling HB 1557 “anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation” and touted that “In Oregon, we say gay.” Brown insisted Oregon was a “welcoming place for all,” implying that with the passage of HB 1557 Florida was not.
Celebrities also took the opportunity Monday during the Oscars to tout the “Don’t Say Gay,” non-inclusive, narrative.
“We’re going to have a great night tonight,” said actress Wanda Sykes during the night’s opening political monologue. “And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night.”
Sykes comment was met with an applause from the crowd of actors and other celebrities.
“Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay,” said fellow actresses Amy Schumer and Regina Hall who were on stage next to Sykes helping her co-host.
Other celebrities and major corporations, such as Disney’s Raven Symone, former “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington and “Star Wars” actor Oscar Isaac, have all publicly condemned the supposedly non-inclusive bill, with many touting the controversial "Don't Say Gay" narrative.
Besides forbidding instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity among lower elementary school grades, or in a manner not age-appropriate for older students, the bill also ensures parents have the right to be notified of healthcare services offered at their children’s schools, as well as the right to decline those services if they so choose.
Some critics have argued the provisions in the bill are unnecessary, and that gender theory is not being taught to young children. However, several examples of this phenomenon have appeared across the country, including this week at a school in Washington State.
The bill also requires school districts to obtain parental permission to hand out health screening forms and other types of questionnaires.