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Mental health groups concerned over implications House Bill 1557 may have on students

Posted at 6:28 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 07:38:07-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Parental Rights in Education Bill, or House Bill 1557, which was signed into law on Monday, requires and prohibits a number of procedures from both school districts and parents. Including prohibiting classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.

For that reason, LBTQ+ advocates are calling it the 'Don't Say Gay Bill.' Opponents worry the bill's language will censor important conversations and isolate LGBTQ+ young people.

MORE: Explaining the law | Read the law's full text [PDF]

People who support it say it will stop schools from forcing children to accept a certain way of thinking, that their parents may not agree with. But opponents say that's limiting important conversations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Which has groups like the Trevor Project concerned. It's a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.

According to the group, about 85% of transgender and non-binary youth— and 2/3 of all LGBTQ youth— say state laws like this could have negative impacts on their mental health.

A recent national survey on LGBTQ mental health showed more than half of youths are experiencing bullying and harassment in schools. Groups— like the nonprofit— are saying because teachers will not be allowed to have conversations about sex and gender, it'll be up to parents to have those conversations with their kids at home.

There are resources for those suffering from mental health to have a conversation. You can call 211 or find online services right here.