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“Don’t Say Gay” Bill Clears State House

February 24th, 2022 by Mike Vasilinda

By a 69-47 vote, the Florida House has passed over the objection of democrats and some Republicans the so called Don’t Say gay bill that limits the teaching of sexual and gender identity in K through third grade. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the debate was among the most passionate of the session.

For the openly gay members of the house, including Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) and Rep. Michelle Rayner,  the debate was personal. 

“And for those LBGTQ youth in Florida, and around the country, and around the world who are watching,” said Guillermo Smith, “I want to make sure they know this: You are loved. You are supported.”

“I don’t matter” proclaimed Rayner. “I walk into a building everyday where I am told I don’t matter. If you vote up on this bill, you are homophobic and transphobic.”

But Rep. Michael Grieco (D-Miami Beach) began by proclaiming “I am a straight white male.” He said the bill will hurt people.

“This is an anti gay bill.”

But Republicans argued the bill is actually living up to its real title, Parental Rights in Education.”

“The bill, plain as day, states that you can not have instruction, instruction, meaning a curriculum lead by teachers teaching children ages five through nine, about sexual orientation and gender identity” said Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-Sebring). “Think about that” she concluded.

Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R-Miami) was blunt. “This bill does not out kids. This bill does not prohibit the word gay.”

The final vote was “69 yeas, 47 nays.”

Notable during the debate was the absence of pages and messengers… A devision was made that the debate wasn’t appropriate for the sixth through twelfth graders 

After today’s vote, the bill is halfway through the legislative process. It has a Senate Committee and Full Senate vote before it can go to the Governor.

The House Speaker’s office said in an email the pages were eating lunch during the debate and that it is customary for the House to honor parents’ right to protect their child from what could become sensitive or age inappropriate debate on the Floor.

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