*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg criticized Republicans who've supported a Florida bill that would ban discussions about sexual orientation and gender in classrooms, suggesting that they've been hypocritical for backing the legislation while running campaigns centered around a "pro-family" stance.
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, or H.B. 1557, was passed in the House Education and Employment Committee late last month. The bill, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, aims to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
The bill wants to prohibit “a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner” and authorizes parents to “bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates certain provisions of law.”
You can hear what Buttigieg said in the video below.
'Absolutely': Pete Buttigieg on whether 'Don't Say Gay' bill is dangerous youtu.be
When asked about his views on the bill, Buttigieg was emphatic in his belief that the bill is "dangerous legislation" that could result in more suicides among LGBTQ+ kids:
"And the reason is that it tells youth who are different or whose families are different that there’s something wrong with them out of the gate and I do think that contributes to the shocking levels of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth.”
Buttigieg proceeded to bring up recent remarks by his husband, writer and advocate Chasten Buttigieg, pointing out that the measure's stipulations places teachers in impossible positions:
“Chasten, my husband, pointed out that if our kids some day- some Monday morning come into class, you know, and kids are sitting around and the teacher’s got the morning circle talking about how everybody’s weekends went, and one of them says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dads,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘No, we don’t talk about that here’?”
It was then that he took aim at Republicans, suggesting they are not in fact "pro-family" if they are not "pro-every family":
"Any age where it’s appropriate to talk about a kid’s mom and dad, then it should be appropriate to talk about a kid’s mom and mom or dad and dad or whatever family structure we live with. That’s part of what it means to be pro-family is to be pro-every family.”
Many have praised Buttigieg for his remarks and echoed his criticisms of the bill and its backers.
Last month, Chasten Buttigieg said the "Don't Say Gay" bill isn’t about “parental rights” at all but about discrimination and control. Chasten Buttigieg acknowledged that LGBTQ+ people and their families have often been used as scapegoats throughout history and said the legislation would "push LGBTQ families away and into the closet."
Adding that the bill would "kill kids," he went on to cite statistics from The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, that noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 and that 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel