The Anti-LGBTQ Bills
BY AVNI MISHRA '23
The front entrance of ABRHS teemed with students and faculty walking out of their fifth period class. The weather was perfect: it was a warm, sunny day—a contrast to the unnerving reason the national walk-out was organized for. On March 11, hundreds of AB students protested the “Don’t Say Gay” bill after it was passed by Florida’s senate on March 8th. The bill is part of a disturbing trend of heterosexist legislation passed in recent years, and in 2022, more anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been signed into law than ever before. This direction of law-making is incredibly harmful for LGBTQ+ youth, as it restricts access to educational resources and mental health support, and it will ultimately amplify issues of heterosexism on a national level.
The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill (officially known as House Bill 1557, Parental Rights in Education Bill) prohibits the discussion of gender and sexuality in third grade classrooms and below. Since its creation, copycat bills in Georgia, Tennessee, and Kansas have followed. Moreover, in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott called upon Child Protective Services to investigate doctors and parents of trans minors, asserting that gender-affirming care is child abuse. While it is not a bill, these investigations have led clinics to stop providing gender-affirming care and left families terrified of being separated. All of these anti-queer actions share a common thread: they target children, which is especially disturbing when examining the impact these bills have.
These drastic measures aim to limit resources and education of queer identities, creating an environment in which queer children are told that their identities do not belong in a classroom setting, which prevents them from speaking about and seeking help for their problems. LGBTQ+ youth already experience heightened mental health related issues; according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, gay individuals are twice as likely to suffer from mental health disorders than heterosexual people, and trans individuals are four times as likely to suffer from mental health disorders than cisgender(cis) people. By cutting off a source of assistance, these numbers threaten to increase. Additionally, by enforcing these ideologies on young queer people, internalized hetereosexism remains with them into adulthood, possibly preventing them from ever getting proper attention and care.
Moreover, these laws not only affect queer children, but also instill hatred and ignorance in all students. By challenging the discussion of queer identity but allowing the discussion of cis heterosexual identity, education now promotes “othering” LGBTQ+ people, or in other words, categorizing LGBTQ+ identities as inappropriate and unworthy of inclusion. There is no room for deviation from the cisgender and hetersexual norm. These teachings remain with children for the rest of their lives, bringing up a generation of people who are taught that discriminating based on sexual and gender identities is valid.
Despite how bleak the future of LGBTQ+ rights seems now, there are preventative measures that can be taken to ensure a brighter future. Signing petitions to combat these bills is an excellent first step. From there, we can reach out to our local representatives and senators via phone or email and compel them to take action. We should also support queer people who may be in need of reassurance during this difficult time, because even expressing resistance to these discriminatory bills on social media is a good way to renounce and amplify the problem. Just look at the progressive pride flag flying high over the main entrance of ABRHS; when they put their mind to it, a community can come together to fight injustice and ensure a better future for all of its citizens.