New Law Stigmatizes LGBTQ+ Voices in the Classroom
March 28 2022 – Today, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) – representing more than 2,500 pediatricians in Florida – released the following statement in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, into law.
“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill signed today by Gov. DeSantis will harm Florida’s children in the classroom and beyond,” said Lisa Gwynn, DO, MBA, MSPH, FAAP. “As pediatricians, we know that exploring one’s identity is a normal part of child development. School should be a place that encourages this process for all children, offering a safe space for sharing accurate information. By prohibiting educators from teaching lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, this law will deprive children of the opportunity to learn from trusted teachers and to feel supported in their school community.”
The law prohibits formal instruction in matters pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and in ways that are not age-appropriate as defined by the Florida Department of Education. The law also allows parents to seek redress in the courts if teachers engage on these topics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health in October 2021. LGBTQ+ students experience disproportionate bullying and bias in school, and recent CDC data indicate that almost 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender. National data have continued to demonstrate that LGBTQ+ youth are far more likely to attempt suicide compared to cisgendered peers and experience more victimization, bullying, and sexual/dating violence.
“We have one message for our LGBTQ+ patients: we support you,” said Dr. Gwynn. “Pediatricians continue to welcome conversations with families about how to best support their children and urge lawmakers to reject policies that marginalize LGBTQ+ students.”
Through its more than 2,500 members, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics promotes the health and welfare of Florida’s children and supports pediatricians and pediatric specialists as the best qualified providers of their healthcare. Learn more by visiting www.fcaap.org.