Media adopts LGBTQ ‘don’t say gay’ to describe Florida bill
Legacy media outlets are using a misleading phrase to refer to a Florida parental rights bill that blocks teachers from discussing sexuality with kindergarteners.
Numerous corporate media outlets, including NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, Time, NBC News and ABC News, referred to Florida’s H.B. 1557 as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, quoting the phrase in headlines. The bill is formally titled “Parental Rights In Education,” and does not prevent teachers – or anyone else – from saying the word “gay.”
The bill forbids teachers from discussing sexuality and gender identity with children in kindergarten through third grade and requires schools to allow parents to opt out of certain health services offered in schools. It also blocks schools from imposing rules that prevent teachers from notifying parents about services offered to children that impact their physical, mental or emotional health, with exceptions in place for instances of potential child abuse.
The phrase “Don’t Say Gay” has been used by activist organizations including the ACLU to refer to related legislation as early as 2012, and was used by The Trevor Project, an organization focused on transgender and nonbinary youth, in January before it was widely adopted in the media in February.
Several outlets explained in their articles that the bill does not ban use of the word “gay” and noted that “Don’t Say Gay” was a phrase used by activists who oppose the bill. However, the outlets still used the phrase in headlines.
ABC noted in its article headlined “DeSantis-backed ‘Dont Say Gay’ bill sparks outrage” that the “Don’t Say Gay” label was employed by LGBTQ advocates, while CNN noted that opponents of the bill labeled the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill while still including the moniker in its headline.