Don’t Say Trans
September 7, 2022
On March 28, 2022, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis executed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents. The bill states: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” DeSantis himself made his interpretation of the bill clear during a press conference, when he said it was “inappropriate” to teach kindergarten-aged kids “they can be whatever they want to be.”
Five months after DeSantis signed the bill, a version of a “Don’t Say Trans” arrived in Texas. On August 22, 2022, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in the Dallas-Fort Worth area voted to ban the teaching or promotion of “gender fluidity” in school, as well as so-called “critical race theory.” It goes a step further, actively permitting teachers not to use a student’s pronouns if they don’t match their sex assigned at birth.
Like the “Don’t Say Gay” law, “Don’t Say Trans” will have devastating effects on students’ rights. Books will be easier to ban in school libraries, particularly literature about gender and race that might allow students comfort, exploration, and celebration of their identities. Students may not be able to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. Trans students aren’t allowed to play sports. Speech in classrooms will be stifled; students won’t have an opportunity to learn about gender and the world around them. As the ACLU of Texas’ fact sheet states, this policy will “restrict students’ right to learn and talk about ideas — especially ideas related to Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ identities, systemic inequality, and the history of inequality.”
We at Woodhull Freedom Foundation echo the ACLU. The “Don’t Say Trans” policy is dangerous and unconscionable. It threatens students’ health, wellbeing, education, and opportunities. We oppose censorship in classrooms and are deeply opposed to this denial of the lives and identities of trans, genderqueer, and gender-expansive students.