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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 Pediatrics, 174(12), 1211. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0940
- 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 Adolescence, 30(S2), 418–430. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12487
- 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 America, 63(6), 999–1010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcl.2016.07.004
- 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 Health, 100(3), 452–459. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.168815
- 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 Adolescence, 45(7), 1269–1282. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0501-7
- 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 Development, 91(5), 1509–1528. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13345
- 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. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-093153
- Snapp, S. D., McGuire, J. K., Sinclair, K. O., Gabrion, K., & Russell, S. T. (2015). LGBTQ-inclusive curricula: Why supportive curricula matter. Sex Education, 15(6), 580-596. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681811.2015.1042573