Opinion: ‘Dont Say Gay’ bill silences LGBTQIA+ conversations

Katie Staroszcyk, Staff Writer

Image by Tíag

I have recently thought a lot about what I was allowed to do at a young age and I realized how much was controlled by my parents. In consideration of what shows I could watch, my mom hated the show, “Yo Gabba Gabba,” because she thought the characters’ voices were annoying. So I never watched it purely based on my parents’ beliefs. Other decisions were made in order to ensure that the content I was watching contained age appropriate material. But restrictions like these are trivial in the shadow of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill currently attempting to be passed in Texas. 

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is a bill that will affect all children from ages roughly four to eight in Texas schools and censor the material they are taught. The bill states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” This means that all conversations about sexuality or gender will be completely restrained by the government, so students will have no opportunity to learn at a young age. 

As a whole, this bill just demonstrates the possession of outdated ideologies and close-mindedness of the legislators in Texas. Children are incredibly impressionable at a young age but that doesn’t imply that sexuality and gender are impressionable topics. When discussions such as same sex marriage and transgender individuals are introduced, it is talked about in a calm, open and explorable environment. It is also put into terms that are appropriate for their age. It can be later explained in its entirety when they are at the age where children might start to experiment with their sexuality and gender, but by creating a basis at such a young age, it can help their development immensely. 

Homophobia and bullying against LGBTQIA+ adolescents is the result of the fear of the unknown. By educating young children on gender and sexuality early and in an age appropriate manner, it decreases bullying and creates normalcy for young queer individuals. 

Apart from the children’s education, it is incredibly discriminatory towards LGBTQIA+ teachers because it means they must also censor their own identity. When a straight teacher mentions their heterosexual spouse, no one bats an eye because heterosexual relationships are deemed as “the norm,” but if a queer teacher mentions their partner, it can often lead to an uproar with administration and the teacher gets penalized for it. With a large majority of educators quitting their jobs due to COVID regulations in schools, this bill further dooms the younger generation to not even have teachers at all. 

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill completely overrides parents’ choice in what their child learns based on old, homophobic mindsets. Instead of allowing politicians who have never taught in a classroom to dictate what the next young minds of our generation learn, we should be encouraging them to be their authentic selves at every stage of their education.