‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill clears House Judiciary Committee following contentious testimony

Reporter: Lauren Leslie Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

The controversial so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is moving through the state legislature. On Thursday, that bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee 13-7.

The testimony was contentious as people argued both for and against the bill. During the committee debate, members had to be reminded of decorum.

“You cannot unring this bell,” said Florida Representative Fentrice Driskell.

Tensions were high as dozens went before lawmakers at the state capitol.

House Bill 1557, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, is bringing people on both sides of the issue to Tallahassee to testify.

Dual bills in the Florida legislature propose limiting teachers and school discussions when it comes to talking about sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Should teachers tell children pick a gender, any gender you’ll be happy? Do we say, lie, cheat, kill, steal you’ll be happy? We don’t. We don’t because these things don’t work,” said a supporter of the bill during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Supporters of the bill say these topics should only be discussed at home, but those who are against it say not all LGBTQ students are supported or at home.

“I know we are in 2022, and there are a lot more parents that are supportive of their children, but I can tell you that not all of them are,” Cori Craciun said.

The bill intends to limit discussions from kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Representative Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, argues there are “children as young as six years old, and pushing this instruction on them without the parent” is not OK for Harding.

Opponents of the bill say the vague language can be interpreted in many ways.

“It’s not specific. It is very vague and it might as well be K through 12,” said Craciun.

LGBTQ advocates worry the language opens the door to apply to the bill to middle and high schools, a time when young people are discovering their sense of self.

On Friday night, there will be a march and protest against the dual bills. It’s scheduled to begin at 4:30 at the Collier County Courthouse followed by Cambier Park at 5:30.

Naples Pride will deliver a petition against the bill to Senator Kathleen Passidomo’s office.

WINK News reached out to the senator for comment but has not heard back.

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