Sunday, March 27, 2022

Nancy Brinker: I’m a Republican and a former diplomat. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is a dangerous policy. (Florida Politics)

Good column by Republican former Ambassador to Hungary from Florida Politics: 

Nancy Brinker: I’m a Republican and a former diplomat. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is a dangerous policy.

'This bill’s dangerously vague provisions would have a chilling effect on support for at-risk LGBTQ youth.'

On Thursday, the Florida House of Representatives passed HB 1557, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill limiting when and how teachers and school staff can discuss gender and sexual orientation in the classroom. Even though this misguided bill has drawn widespread condemnation from civil rights groups, today it remains one step closer to becoming misguided law. As a Republican, a former diplomat, mother of a proud gay son, and life-long defender of equal rights I strongly oppose this legislation and the danger it poses to the future of our state.

Our nation has come a long way in a very short period when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Nine years ago, I was one of only a handful of Florida Republican activists who stood up in support of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, requiring federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states.

Momentum was on our side when only two years later hundreds more Republicans joined an amicus brief at the High Court in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that resulted in all same-sex marriage bans nationwide being struck down in June 2015.

In the five years since our gay sisters and brothers were granted the freedom to marry, public acceptance of broader LGBTQ rights has skyrocketed. As recently as 2004, polls showed that 60% of the Americans opposed same-sex marriage, while only 31% were in favor, according to the Pew Research Center. Today, those numbers are reversed: 70% support same-sex marriage; including, for the first time ever, a majority of Republicans.

It’s not difficult to connect LGBTQ rights with conservative philosophy. Stronger, more loving and stable families, regardless of gender, equate to less reliance on, and demand for, state services. It also means that government does not stand in the way of individual rights and freedoms.

As a mother, I can also attest to the fact that one of the most important parts of parenting is teaching confidence and values that give kids a strong foundation for life. When politicians create laws that ban certain curriculum and books across the state, they’re not only interfering with the ability of local schools to teach our kids, but they’re also interfering with the rights of local parents to align what kids learn at school with the values they learn at home.

This bill’s dangerously vague provisions would have a chilling effect on support for at-risk LGBTQ youth because it creates broad and costly new liabilities for already cash-strapped school districts. Perhaps most alarming, the bill mandates that all “student support services” in school districts adhere to the guidelines of the Florida Department of Education. Yet, in recent weeks, this state agency rescinded anti-bullying resources that have been proven to reduce youth mental health issues and suicides. This attack on public safety in the form of government activism, akin to an assault on local control of education, is just one reason why seven Florida House Republicans wisely embraced their conservative instincts and voted against this “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Government overreach and state-sanctioned abuse against vulnerable minors that undermines the ability of parents and local administrators to teach children are not conservative values. Despite the progress we have made in recent years, it remains clear that the fight for LGBTQ equality remains far from finished. As we look beyond Florida, across our nation and overseas, we see more and more every day that freedom is fragile. If America is to serve as a light for the world, if Florida is to be a beacon of progress, equality, and growth, we first need to empower the voices within our own local communities. I strongly urge Florida Republicans to embrace this logic and reject this shameful “Don’t Say Gay” bill.


Nancy Brinker is a resident of Palm Beach County. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is the founder of the Susan G. Komen organization and The Promise Fund of Florida

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