“Don’t Say Gay”: Marching For the Future

Iris Lee, Staff Writer

   The clock finally struck 1:40, and the atmosphere in the classroom shifted completely. Hundreds of students filed out of their classrooms, and gathered in front of the ROG. Deafening roars of protest filled the air, and there was an unmistakable feeling spreading throughout the crowd: community. Dozens of pride flags waved proudly, as well as massive colorful posters. This was an attempt to change the future.

   On Thursday, March 10th, PPCHS’s Gay-Straight Alliance hosted the #SayGay school wide walkout in opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. The bill bans classroom discussion on sexual orientation and identity in kindergarten to third grade levels, and prohibits teaching in a manner not age appropriate for students (ABC). Furthermore, parents will be granted full access to information about their child’s health from the school, including information about their child’s sexual orientation status. 

   The primary purpose of the legislation is to set restrictions and redefine what discussion is age appropriate in primary grade levels. Many of its supporters favor the bill’s strengthening of parental rights by preventing the withholding of information of gender issues from parents, and are opposed to the discussion of sexuality in early grade levels. However, those in opposition believe that this bill is dangerously up for interpretation, and may be extended to all grade levels. “I think the bill is a window to opening up more legislation against the LGBTQ community. It’s not just about the bill itself. It’s about the whole community being under attack,” says senior Vrinda Gupta. The controversial legislation was just passed in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate, and Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into effect on July 1 (NBC).

   One of the fundamental pillars of the GSA lies in its confidentiality. The goal of the GSA is to provide refuge for students to be themselves without the constant underlying fear of being outed, so those who attend its meetings are sworn to secrecy about who they saw. However, if this bill is put into effect, this may push the sexuality of many students into the spotlight. But, according to Mrs. Timmerman, sponsor of GSA, “Regardless of the bill’s status, I will continue to host meetings in a safe and confidential manner. Students need access to a safe and affirming space, and research shows that having such support can drastically reduce the risk of negative mental health outcomes and suicide. Just because something is law or policy does not make it right, and I am here to protect and do right by my students.”

   The officers of GSA have clearly stated their opposition to this legislation. This Thursday has clearly shown that they aren’t the only ones. All together, the GSA has officially hosted one of the largest walkouts against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in South Florida. For many students at PPCHS, this walkout means much more than just a protest against a singular bill. As senior Madisen Romero puts it, “Fighting for things like this is what builds our history. We’re shaping the lives of future generations. It starts here.”