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Rep. Guillermo Smith: "Don't Say Gay" bill would stop Central Florida students from learning about Pulse shooting

The temporary memorial at the site of the Pulse nightclub. Photo : Matthew Peddie, WMFE
The temporary memorial at the site of the Pulse nightclub. Photo : Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill is being debated and possibly voted on Tuesday in the Florida House.

The bill would ban some classroom discussions of gender and sexuality throughout the state. 

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says that’s problematic as students couldn’t talk about the history behind important local events like the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“And we know that the descendants of the 49, their own children, their nieces, their nephews, their cousins, their family members, are children in our public schools. Many of them still have memories of the 49. And conversations about what happened at Pulse, which do happen in our schools in Central Florida are inextricably linked to conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Smith says not talking about mass shootings, makes it harder for kids to heal. 

“And for bills like this to come in and say no classroom instruction can take place in kindergarten through age three or through third grade specifically related to sexual orientation and gender identity will take away the ability of the Central Florida community to continue to heal particularly from the tragedy at Pulse nightclub. Kids have questions. This is part of a discussion. This is part of our community and it's part of our history.”

Companion legislation is currently making its way through the Florida Senate. 

An amendment to the bill that would have required schools to alert parents if their child came out, was pulled Tuesday afternoon before the debate.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.