Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law has two ostensible purposes. One is to bring national attention to Governor Ron DeSantis as the heir to Donald Trump’s MAGA base. The other is to humiliate gay people, who are collateral damage in DeSantis’ pursuit of the 2024 Republican nomination. Since teachers in K-3 in Florida do not teach sex education, the law is no more than a symbolic insult.

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is described as a “parental rights” law. Among other things, House Bill 1557 bans any instruction about sexuality and gender identity in grades K-3, and requires that any such instruction in grades 4-12 must be age appropriate. The law allows parents to sue the district if they believe the law has been violated, and the district must pay the cost of the lawsuit.

What’s it really about? This bill is rightly understood to be a condemnation of homosexuality across the board. It strikes out at students, teachers, parents, and other people who are gay. It stigmatizes all gay people. Children who have gay parents must not mention that fact in school. Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature want to shove them back into the closet.

The same people who worry that white children will be shamed by any discussion of racism in the history classroom don’t care at all about children who might be gay or who have gay parents and family members. The “Don’t Say Gay” law is the Republicans’ effort to “cancel” people who are gay, make them invisible. That should work as well as eliminating racism by banning any discussion about racism.

Florida does not require schools to offer sex education. If they choose to do so, the curriculum must emphasize the importance of abstinence. Parents may opt their children out of sex education.

DeSantis signed the bill at a charter school founded by the wife of the state education commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Here is House Bill 1557, which includes the history of the bill and the full text. Much of the language is vague, opening the door to litigation, which is already underway.

On a lighter note, I received the following joke from a gay parent in Florida:


A fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up – fireman, mechanic, businessman, car salesman… and so forth.

However, little Johnie was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, “My father’s an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes to music in front of other men and they put money in his underwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and stay with him all night for money.”

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some exercises and took little Johnie aside. “Is that really true about your father?”

“No,” the boy said, “He works for the Republican National Committee and helped get Trump elected, but it’s too embarrassing to say that in front of the other kids.”