Don’t Say Gay: GSA reacts

Since when was it illegal to educate in modern times?

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual reporters and do not reflect the views of The Sage, Sage Creek High School, or Carlsbad School District.

HB 1557 is the legislative name for the new “Don’t Say Gay” bill that got passed recently in Florida. It is a bill that promises to give back power to the parents and to protect the “parents’ rights” for what their children learn in school. From kindergarten to third grade, any gender and sex education is forbidden and criminalized.

S.A.F.E signs are placed all around campus, this one being placed in front of the Performing Arts Center (PAC). As a trans writer, this means a lot to me on campus. (Photo Taken by Harley Morgan)

It is a law that masks itself as a “frisk,” or a check of their education, which is being met with opposition by parents, their “rights” and how children are brought up. It “frisks” the content they are taught, with laws that disregard the education of our youth that has important teaching on their bodies and influences how they will grow as humans.

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, explained the purpose behind the bill from his perspective.

“Parents have every right to be informed about services offered to their child at school,” DeSantis said. “[They] should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids as young as 5 years old.”

One Florida teacher expressed on Twitter how she sent an email to students’ parents describing how she will adjust her classroom to be non-gendered because of the bill. Although many parents became mad, she stood her ground by pointing out the flawed logic of the bill and the parents alike who supported the legislation.

“[I] will no longer be referring to your students with gendered pronouns,” she said. “All students will be referred to as ‘they’ or ‘them.’ I will no longer use a gendered title such as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ or make any references to my husband/wife in the classroom.”

She then proceeded to sign off as “Mx. XXXXXX.” This was a direct shot at the teachers in their school district, and rightfully so.

But how are local students and Gender and Sexuality (GSA) clubs reacting to these new bills?

GSA club members Jackson Connolly, Yessenia Sanchez, Ariella Cummins and Benjamin Mendez hold up signs in the village, protesting the new bill, HB 1557 in Florida. The four students are a part of the LGBT youth club, GSA, at Carlsbad High School. (Photo taken by a member at the protest against Florida Bill HB 1557)

Carlsbad High School GSA president Jackson Connolly touched on how he and his club reacted to these bills: a protest in Carlsbad Village to demonstrate their anger towards these new legislative actions.

“We planned the protest with the help of our lovely officers,” Connolly said. “It was the idea of one of our members, Luca, who was the lead in helping us organize it. After all the news on the homophobic and transphobic bills, we knew we needed to do this protest to get the word out there.”

Students from Carlsbad High School and Sage Creek High School as well as local community members came out in protest of these new bills including HB 1557, along with other bills like NO.675 in Idaho, which criminalizes trans hormones and gender-affirming care, and SB 184 in Alabama, which criminalizes hormone treatment with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and makes people use the bathroom that aligns with their sex on their birth certificate as mandatory law.

Jackson Connolly holds up a sign that says “Mr. DeSantis. What the Hell?!” He is President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club at Carlsbad High School. (Photo taken by a protester at the GSA protest)

What is the purpose of these bills? What do these do for Americans and LGBTQ+ youth all over the world? Are they a view of morals, or is it political?

This directly affects the youth not just in Florida but all over the country. LGBTQ+ youth dealing with sexuality are more than twice as likely as heterosexual individuals to experience a mental health issue, while transgender individuals rise to over four times as much as cisgender individuals who experience these conditions.

So what can we do to change the advancement of this detrimental legislation? It can often feel as if we as individuals have no power but we do.

I expressed my interest in making an impact in the world, even just by doing small things. A peer told me a story about how a small article, such as this, can go on to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

They also brought up an inspiring quote by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).

“Sometimes people will ask me, ‘There is so much happening in the world and in the country, and it all feels so big and overwhelming—what can I even do as one person?’” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What I try to convey every time is that no action is too small, and if you feel so moved, you can and should start with whatever is within arm’s reach or in your backyard. You can even start with yourself.”

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comments about ‘big gestures,’ originally in an Instagram post. She emphasized the importance of taking even small actions. (Photo courtesy of J. Scott Applewhite, Graphic designed by Harley Morgan)

The smallest action can influence the biggest outcome, a philosophy called the “Butterfly Effect,” where the flap of a butterflies wings in Europe could end up causing a storm in America.

“We live in a culture of grand gestures and big ambitions, but that also means we should be wary of how much ‘get-rich-quick’ thinking can [form] in our minds and tell us how big things mean you are making an impact,’ Ocasio-Cortez added.

Since when did we plant the idea in our heads that what we do has no effect on anyone? Try to think about small things you do that end up making a big difference in the long run. One example is voting; one vote could be the turning point for an election. Another example could be how one additional person attending an event could cause the event to be considered “big.”

A quote from the Disney animated film “Mulan” fits perfectly with this idea.

One grain of rice—one person and one vote—can be all that it takes to make an impact or change the outcome of an event. In the case of Mulan, the country of China didn’t know they needed her but she ended up making the most impact one can: saving the nation. (Photo courtesy of Magical Quote)

“A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory, and defeat,” the Emperor said.

In this “war” against humanity and freedom, why do we give up? We say, “Oh, I can’t change the legislature. I can’t change people’s opinions.”

But we can.

Some people may seem closed off, but many people are in fact open to listening to others and are willing to change. For Yessenia Sanchez, Vice President of the GSA club at Carlsbad High School, their protest was a success.

“The protest went as well as one can go,” Sanchez said. “We met up and had a lot of great people show up. Of course, we had people who disagreed with us, [but] we got a lot of support as well.”

Who knows how impactful that one protest was for one person. Standing up for what’s right in a small city has the potential to make significant changes across the nation.