Editorial—Parental Rights in Education Bill threatens education

North Wind Staff

A Florida bill passed by a house committee and introduced to the state senate seeks to prevent teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ topics and history in the classroom, with parents able to sue the school in question if they feel their child has been exposed to topics pertaining to gender identity and the LGBTQ+ community that interfere with their parenting.

Several aspects of this bill are quite concerning for educators and students across the country. The primary concern discussed in media since the bill’s passage in house committee has been that of increased suicide risk for LGBTQ+ kids.

Additionally, one of the bill’s provisions “which would require educators and administrators to effectively ‘out’ known LGBTQ+ students to their parents without their consent,” according to The Hill.

For children whose home environments are hostile to the expression of queer identities, the results could be extremely harmful.

Meanwhile, according to a recent study by the Trevor Project, “LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.”

For students in all states, the news of this bill is troubling, even terrifying. As we know, such a bill will not prevent students from existing with their sexual preferences or gender identities. The only result of this bill would be making teachers unable to talk about it, making students feel even more alienated than they already might feel. As the data from the Trevor Project study shows, this can even lead to a higher incidence of kids taking their own lives.

This bill rides on the heels of recent anti critical race theory bills, anti-trans bathroom bills and other things we’ve seen introduced to legislatures recently. In the case of this bill, we have data that LGBTQ+ education is a public health issue, yet the politics of the topic leads to the risk of suicide being ignored.

In our nation’s legislature, we could be putting energy towards so much good. Our legal bodies have a great deal of power to improve the lives of Americans no matter what nationality or sexuality they are, improve learning environments and create more effective social systems. However, Florida’s legislature is spending its time and energy trying to suppress a group of people who are already suppressed. Schools should be a safe place for children, and removing a piece of education that saves lives is obviously damaging. If this bill passes, it could lead to a devastating chain of events for children.

The United States likes to boast about being LGBTQ+ friendly, but then things like this happen, showing us that the work towards equality is not over.

This law comes down to restricting awareness of LGBTQ+ realities. However, children need to learn early about how to accept themselves and how to treat others. This is a conversation that needs to be had early in a child’s life and repeated as often as necessary to promote kindness and ultimately promote public health.

We must remember that any time there is social progress in any way, those who oppose the change try to reverse the change by suppressing knowledge and discussion. That’s why people go for education; suppressing knowledge is the best way to prevent change.

With that in mind, it’s important that as young people about to embark on our careers, we keep dialogues going on important issues and social changes such as LGBTQ+ acceptance. We have to find diverse ways of sharing information, and of empowering communities that have been disenfranchised and discriminated against.

Are we going to be a country that criminalizes and alienates people for how they are? Or is the introduction of this bill going to be a chance to show that’s not who we are?