The bill would effectively erase LGBTQ students and history by banning classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
February 8, 2022 — The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, condemned the Florida Senate Education Committee for passing SB 1834, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves. The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements, which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.
“Banning speech about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms would not only be an infringement on civil rights, it would also erase entire chapters of history, classic literature, and critical health information from textbooks, to say nothing of erasing students themselves. LGBTQ youth deserve to learn that they are not alone — that they have a rich history and culture, and heroes like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, and Bayard Rustin,” said Sam Ames (they/them pronouns), Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “For those struggling, seeing positive LGBTQ representation in the classroom can give them hope that a brighter future is possible and prevent suicide. This bill also takes the additional, extreme step of forcing teachers to out students to their legal guardians, at a time when our 2021 national survey of more than 35,000 LGBTQ youth found that only 1 in 3 said their home is LGBTQ-affirming.”
The Trevor Project’s research has found that the inclusion of positive content about LGBTQ people and issues in classroom curriculums can benefit the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ students. 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 year.
According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Further, a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project found that 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth—and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 47% felt nervous and/or scared, 45% felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678.
About The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide.