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Pete Buttigieg Explains Damning Impact of Florida 'Don't Say Gay' Bills

Pete Buttigieg Explains Damning Impact of Florida 'Don't Say Gay' Bills

Pete Buttigieg

The U.S. Cabinet member spoke about how it would impact children like his own.

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U. S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has slammed Florida's pending "Don't Say Gay" legislation, saying it tells LGBTQ+ kids or those with LGBTQ+ parents there's something wrong with them, which could contribute to the already high rate of self-harm among young people from those populations.

"Is this legislation dangerous?" CNN Newsroom host Jim Sciutto asked Buttigieg Wednesday.

"Absolutely," Buttigieg replied. "And the reason is that it tells youth who are different or whose families are different that there's something wrong with them out of the gate, and I do think that contributes to the shocking levels of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth."

Florida House Bill 1557 and Senate Bill 1834, also known as the "Don't Say Gay" bills, ban schools from encouraging "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students." Critics have said this type of erasure of queer and trans folks from classrooms could lead to a rise in youth suicide rates. LGBTQ+ young people are four times more likely than their peers to seriously consider, make a plan for, or attempt suicide, according to the Trevor Project.

"Chasten, my husband, pointed out that if our kids someday, some Monday morning, come into class, you know, and kids are sitting around and the teacher's got the morning circle talking about how everybody's weekends went, and one of them says, 'I had the best weekend with my dads,' is the teacher supposed to say, 'No, we don't talk about that here?'" added Buttigieg, who is the father of twins and the first gay dad in the Cabinet.

"Any age where it's appropriate to talk about a kid's mom and dad, then it should be appropriate to talk about a kid's mom and mom or dad and dad or whatever family structure we live with. That's part of what it means to be pro-family, is to be pro-every family."

The legislation has been advanced by committees in both the Florida House and Senate. The pair of bills now await action by the full membership in each chamber. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, hasn't said outright that he'd sign the legislation, but he has signaled support for it by saying it's "entirely inappropriate" for teachers to discuss gender identity.

Chasten Buttigieg, a former teacher, has repeatedly denounced the Florida legislation, and President Joe Biden this week condemned it strongly. A similar bill is under consideration in Tennessee, where lawmakers have tried several times to pass such a measure but always failed.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.