‘Don’t punish me because my existence makes you uncomfortable’: Opponents speak out against ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Tensions continue to brew over the proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the Florida Legislature.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 11:51 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tensions continue to brew over the proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the Florida Legislature.

Opponents took to the Capitol last week to protest the bill and held a virtual press conference Monday denouncing the legislation.

This bill would prohibit discussion of sexuality and gender identity for younger students, and even for older kids unless it’s deemed “age-appropriate.”

It also requires schools to “out” students to their parents.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for the bill, saying that conversations about gender identity and sexuality are inappropriate for the classroom.

But speakers at Monday’s rally called the bill hateful, disgusting and disgraceful.

“Don’t punish me because my existence makes you uncomfortable,” one speaker, a Winter Park High School student named Will Larkins said. “That’s the most un-American thing ever.”

Larkins spoke about being harassed by their peers for being gay and nonbinary. They also said they looked to their English teacher for support.

“She comforted me, she hugged me, she let me know she experienced similar things being queer when she was my age,” Larkins said. “She told me it would get better and that she was here for me. She took care of me when the administration at my school looked the other way. If House Bill 1557 had been in policy at this time, my teacher would not have been able to talk to me about it.”

The groups represented at this press conference also spoke out against HB 7, which would allow banning books or classroom discussions that may cause students to feel discomfort due to their race.

Opponents worry that bill would discourage teachers from speaking truthfully about difficult subjects in history, like slavery or the Holocaust.

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