Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is planning to extend the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, to all grade levels.
DeSantis’s conservative ideology aims to reach not only elementary schools, where it is already established; but also in middle and secondary education. Some analysts believe it is part of his political agenda ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
It is worth mentioning that this initiative does not need to be approved by the Legislative Power and is scheduled to be voted on in April in the State Education Council and proposed by the State Department of Education; both institutions led by officials close to DeSantis.
The amendments to this policy state that lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity will be prohibited in grades four through twelve. They will only be taught if required by existing state regulations and even if it is part of sexual and reproductive health classes. These last classes are optional.
Emulating former US President Donald Trump, DeSantis supports cultural divisions and aims to reach the White House promoting a conservative agenda that, according to him, could translate into thousands or millions of votes for the Republican Party.
Policies that promote intolerance
The truth is, conservative policies could bring much more complex problems to American childhoods. According to the organization The Trevor Project, generations of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual or Queer) youth are coming out of the closet at earlier ages, that is, they are defining their sexual orientation and gender identity at a young age; potentially putting them at higher risk of victimization at a time when they may be less equipped to handle it.
A survey carried out in 2021 by this body detailed that the sample surveyed that were between 13 and 17 years old came out, on average, at 13 years of age; compared to LGBTQ youth ages 18-24 who dated, on average, at age 16.
“LGBTQ youth who dated before the age of 13 had increased odds of suicide. More than half of LGBTQ youth who dated before age 13 (56%) were seriously considering suicide in 2020, compared to 42% of youth who dated later,” the study said.
The Trevor Project reported that LGBTQ youth who discussed their sexual orientation before the age of 13 had higher rates of victimization due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. “Nearly half (46%) of LGBTQ youth who dated before the age of 13 reported that they had been threatened or physically harmed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” it detailed.
As if that weren’t enough, LGBTQ youth in middle schools report higher rates of bullying than even LGBTQ youth in middle and/or high school.