Chasten Buttigieg: Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Law will 'Kill Kids'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday January 24, 2022

Chasten Buttigieg critiqued a Florida measure that would force teachers to out LGBTQ+ students and ban classroom discussion around sexual and gender identity, political site The Hill reported.

A version of the bill has passed the Florida State House of Representatives "largely along party lines" on Jan. 20, the article noted. The state lawmaker who introduced the bill to the House, Republican Rep. Joe Harding, characterized the bill as "defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: Being a parent."

"Harding's bill, along with its companion bill introduced Tuesday [Jan. 18] by Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), would block teachers in Florida from talking about LGBTQ+ topics that are not 'age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,'" The Hill detailed.

Local NBC affiliate WFLA reported that Harding acknowledged that "the law would prevent school districts from creating curriculum or policies that encourage teachers to discuss LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms," and, while he claimed that the bill "would not preclude the teaching of LGBTQ+ history in K-12 classrooms," the lawmaker also specified that the measure "focuses on 'specific curriculum or coursework that puts' a student 'in a situation where they have to have' a discussion about LGBTQ+ topics."

In a move reminiscent of the Texas law that weaponizes lawsuits against abortion providers, the proposed Florida measure "sets up a method for parents to sue teachers or school officials," the WFLA story said, "and entitles the parents to potential monetary damages."

Chasten Buttigieg, who is a teacher, took to Twitter to decry the push to outlaw classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues. Addressing his remarks to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Buttigieg posted, "This will kill kids."

The post added: "You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in."

The post shared a video from Equality Florida in which another state lawmaker, Jon Harris Maurer, spoke against the measure, saying that "LGBTQ people are a normal, healthy part of our society...Conversations about us aren't something dangerous that should be banned. That's prejudicial, and it sends a terrible message to our young people, including LGBTQ young people, or young people who have LGBTQ parents."

Buttigieg cited findings by The Trevor Project, an organization that combats LGBTQ+ youth suicide, that indicate 42% of youth who are non-cisgender and non-heterosexual "seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year."

Buttigieg also cited The Trevor Project's findings that LGBTQ+ students who learn in class about issues and people directly relevant to themselves "had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the last year."

Advocates have also condemned the proposed measure due to language in one version of the bills that "would require educators and administrators to effectively 'out' known LGBTQ+ students to their parents without their consent," The Hill said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.