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ABCT Condemns the Florida Legislature’s Attack on LGBTQ+ Youth

ABCT Sexual and Gender Minority SIG Condemns the Florida Legislature’s Attack on LGBTQ+ Youth

ABCT Board of Directors Endorses This Statement


The ABCT Sexual and Gender Minority Special Interest Group condemns the Florida legislature’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which seeks to erase the existence of LGBTQ+ people in Florida schools by prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity. Erasing LGBTQ+ people from our children’s education conveys that LGBTQ+ identities are shameful and increases anti-LGBTQ+ stigma. We stand with our Floridian members and all LGBTQ+ youth in supporting the right of all children to be educated in a safe and inclusive environment that affirms their identities.


Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill (formally known as “Parental Rights in Education”).  Under this new law, teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity will be prohibited in kindergarten through third grade classrooms and restricted for students in older grades. This paves the way for teachers and schools to be criminalized for simply acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ+ people. This law is a clear and hateful attempt to teach young people that LGBTQ+ identities are shameful, and its enactment will directly harm LGBTQ+ youth and their families.


The research is very clear — anti-LGBTQ+ legal policies harm the mental health of LGBTQ+ people (Hatzenbuehler et al., 2010), at least in part by contributing to a culture of anti-LGBTQ+ stigma. The majority of LGBTQ+ youth report experiencing some form of bullying (Earnshaw et al., 2016), which has been linked to this group’s disproportionately high rates of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation and attempts (Clark et al., 2020; Russell & Fish, 2020). Schools can play a pivotal role in disrupting the negative impact of bullying on LGBTQ+ students’ wellbeing by enacting inclusive and affirming policies. LGBTQ+-inclusive curricula in particular are associated with decreased bullying and increased reports of students feeling safe at school (Snapp et al., 2015). Other LGBTQ-inclusive school policies (e.g., inclusive antibullying policies, GSAs) increase student social support (Day et al., 2020), reduce bullying (Marx & Kettrey, 2016), and reduce depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior (Hatzenbuehler & Keyes, 2013; Poteat et al., 2020). By refusing to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in schools, Florida legislators are teaching our children that LGBTQ+ people should be hidden and erased. This increases the risk for bullying and mistreatment of LGBTQ+ young people and their families, which harms their health.


We call on Gov. DeSantis to overturn this law immediately. We also encourage our members to take action to support LGBTQ+ youth in Florida, and in other states where similar efforts are being made.


For more information about how you can help in Florida:

  • Advocacy organizations: Equality Florida (link), Jacksonville Coalition for Equality (link), Save LGBT (link), GLSEN (link), Florida Equality Coalition
  • Community organizations: Jasmyn (link), Zebra Coalition (link), The Trevor Project (link), Trans LifeLine (link)
  • Write to Gov. DeSantis (link)




  • Clark, K. A., Cochran, S. D., Maiolatesi, A. J., & Pachankis, J. E. (2020). Prevalence of bullying among youth classified as LGBTQ who died by suicide as reported in the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2003-2017. JAMA Pediatrics174(12), 1211.
  • Day, J. K., Fish, J. N., Grossman, A. H., & Russell, S. T. (2020). Gay‐Straight Alliances, inclusive policy, and school climate: LGBTQ youths’ experiences of social support and bullying. Journal of Research on Adolescence30(S2), 418–430.
  • Earnshaw, V. A., Bogart, L. M., Poteat, V. P., Reisner, S. L., & Schuster, M. A. (2016). Bullying among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Pediatric Clinics of North America63(6), 999–1010.
  • Hatzenbuehler, M. L., McLaughlin, K. A., Keyes, K. M., & Hasin, D. S. (2010). The impact of institutional discrimination on psychiatric disorders in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: A prospective study. American Journal of Public Health100(3), 452–459.
  • Marx, R. A., & Kettrey, H. H. (2016). Gay-Straight Alliances are associated with lower levels of school-based victimization of LGBTQ+ youth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence45(7), 1269–1282.
  • Poteat, V. P., Calzo, J. P., Yoshikawa, H., Lipkin, A., Ceccolini, C. J., Rosenbach, S. B., O’Brien, M. D., Marx, R. A., Murchison, G. R., & Burson, E. (2020). Greater engagement in Gender‐Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) and GSA characteristics predict youth empowerment and reduced mental health concerns. Child Development91(5), 1509–1528.
  • Russell, S. T., & Fish, J. N. (2020). Mental health in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12(1), 465–487.
  • Snapp, S. D., McGuire, J. K., Sinclair, K. O., Gabrion, K., & Russell, S. T. (2015). LGBTQ-inclusive curricula: Why supportive curricula matter. Sex Education15(6), 580-596.



Related Information

What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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