The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

The Student News Site of Dr. Michael M. Krop

The Lightning Strike

In a bid to kill “wokeness”, Ron DeSantis is trampling over student’s educational rights

    On Nov. 8, 2022, after winning re-election, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared that “Florida is where woke goes to die.” 

    He was referring to wokeness, which is a social movement centered around the acknowledgment and rectification of the racial inequality faced by other groups, including that of LGBTQ+ people. While some in the movement have gone too far on certain issues, the general crux of the movement is good and should be embraced.

    Recently, DeSantis has aimed to “kill wokeness”‘ through many laws centered around education, with the worst one being the Parental Rights in Education Bill, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill has had detrimental effects on all students.

    The “Don’t Say Gay” bill bans lessons on “sexual orientation and gender identity,” which has many negative consequences downstream. Previously, teachers could read books like “Tango Makes Three,” to prevent kids with two same-sex parents from feeling ashamed. Now they can’t, as that book, along with around 300 others, have been banned, with many of them simply containing gay characters. If kids use the word gay as an insult, teachers can not say that the word is not an insult and that it is fine to be gay, as that would be teaching “sexual orientation.” 

     But the consequences of the bill go even further. According to NBC 6 South Florida, a 5th grade teacher was investigated for showing a PG Disney movie that includes a gay character, even though the teacher had permission from parents to show PG movies.

     The root of the problem is the idea that kids can not be exposed to appropriate gay relationships, same as they are to straight ones. Learning about them does not make them more likely to turn out gay, it merely makes them less scared to come out as gay.

     Teachers also can’t refer to kids by anything but their birth names and pronouns unless approved by the parents. School should be a safe place where kids are free to express themselves and discover who they are, especially if their home is unsupportive. 

     The requirement that students and teachers use the restroom assigned to their birth gender is likewise problematic. While some claim that predators pose as trans to gain access to certain restrooms, a UCLA study found that letting trans people use restrooms that match their gender identity does not increase safety risks. Alternatively, another UCLA study found trans people are four times as likely to be a victim of a violent or sexual crime than cisgender people are. These laws passed by DeSantis embolden people with bad intentions, making them feel like the government is on their side.

     The most reprehensible part of these new laws is the fact that teachers may unintentionally end up outing a student to their parents. As a result of the bill, in many Florida counties, if a student asks to be called by a non-birth name or pronoun, teachers are required to send a document to parents for the student to be called by that name. Everyone has the right to dictate when, how, and if to come out, especially considering some parents might react negatively. Taking this away from kids is cruel and twisted.

     These laws and policies are made even worse by the fact that the suicide rate of LGBTQ+ teenagers is four times as high as non-LGBTQ teenagers, according to Newport Academy. Laws like the ones DeSantis is advocating for ignore the fact that learning about LGBTQ+ people in school decreases the LGBTQ+ suicide rate. According to a 2021 Trevor Project study, 19 percent of LGBTQ+ students who hadn’t learned about gay or trans people in school attempted suicide, compared to 16 percent who had learned about them in school. While 3 percent might not seem like a lot, that number represents millions of children whose lives matter and need to be protected, no matter the cost.

     These bills are also having a detrimental effect on education, with DeSantis banning AP African-American Studies from being taught in Florida as it included units on black queer studies and other supposedly “woke” ideas. Additionally, Florida’s education standards now say that some enslaved African-Americans benefited from slavery because they learned useful skills during their enslavement. This is a ridiculous attempt to whitewash history and brush off the cruel horrors of slavery.  

     As well, DeSantis’s ban also led to the College Board refusing to teach AP Psychology in Florida because they were concerned units on human sexuality would not be properly taught, which would have deprived kids of an opportunity to gain college credit.  The state however allowed the course material to be taught, and the course was made available again. This raises the fear that the College Board might invalidate some AP courses on concerns of the subjects not being properly taught, rendering students’ hard work worthless.

     Krop has been insulated from the effects of this bill somewhat due to a supportive administration; however, the law has placed pressure on the school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Spectrum. GSA avoided setting up a display during Open House to prevent homophobic individuals from reporting them, and Diversity Day, a gathering of all the GSAs in Miami-Dade County, was canceled.  LGBTQ+ kids should be allowed to participate in their club without interference from the state.

     “I completely lost the feeling of being safe and comfortable with my gender identity,” an anonymous student said. “It feels like I have to watch my every step to not get in trouble by the state for who I am.” 

     No kid should ever feel ashamed of their sexual orientation or gender identity or scared to express it, but these laws are making many kids feel that way. Ultimately, they are having a detrimental effect on the student body. Despite this, DeSantis has continued enforcing these laws, harming the state and its people. To reverse them, we must elect a Democrat or a sane Republican who will repeal these ridiculous laws.

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