FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 10, 2022
COLUMBUS, Ohio — This week, the Florida Legislature passed a harmful measure that restricts discussion on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. By suppressing instruction on these topics, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill stands in the way of the affirming school environment that all students deserve.
Equitas Health strongly condemns any law that compromises the physical and emotional well-being of LGBTQ+ students.
“Legislation like this directly impacts our work and is one of the reasons Equitas Health exists today,” said interim CEO Robert Copeland. “Marginalizing LGBTQ+ students unfairly puts them at increased risk for negative health outcomes.”
Florida’s bill — officially called Parental Rights in Education — says that “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.” The law allows parents to sue districts if they feel the law is being violated.
For many LGBTQ+ students, a supportive, affirming learning environment is the difference between life and death. A 2020 study by The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ+ students in affirming schools were 40% less likely to attempt suicide compared to those in non-affirming schools. The study concluded that including positive content about LGBTQ+ people and issues in classrooms can “serve as protective factors for LGBTQ+ students.”
Sadly, Florida’s bill is just the beginning. In Tennessee, the legislature is looking to ban books that “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) lifestyles” in schools. Kansas lawmakers want to ban depictions of “homosexuality” in schools. Oklahoma is advancing a chilling series of laws that targets teachers, school libraries, LGBTQ+ school employees, and public university courses. These are just three of the fifteen states that are considering their own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
As a provider of gender-affirming care, Equitas Health recognizes the permanent damage these measures will cause. We stand with the hundreds of thousands of people who wrote their legislators in opposition to this bill. We applaud the legions of students who walked out of classes in protest. We join them in rejecting any effort by lawmakers to inflict harm on LGBTQ+ students.
The time to stand up and speak out against these measures is now. No child — LGBTQ+ students included — deserves to be used as a political pawn. And every child deserves to feel safe and proud of who they are at school.
Established in 1984, Equitas Health is a regional nonprofit community healthcare system. A federally designated Community Health Center, it is one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS serving healthcare organizations in the United States. With 19 offices in 13 cities, Equitas Health serves tens of thousands of patients in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia each year through patient-centered, integrated, and cutting edge services, including primary and specialized medical care, pharmacy, dentistry, behavioral health, HIV/STI treatment and prevention, PrEP/PEP, Ryan White/HIV case management, care navigation, advocacy, and other community health initiatives. The Equitas Health Pharmacy is an integral and essential part of the health center’s comprehensive care and business models, reinvesting 100% of profits back into the organization’s programs and services. Equitas Health operates pharmacies serving patients in Ohio and Texas.
The Equitas Health Institute and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) are divisions of Equitas Health.
To learn more, please visit equitashealth.com or follow Equitas Health on Facebook and Twitter.
(614) 340-6761 x 5572