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Psychologists Explain Why HB 1557, Dubbed 'Don't Say Gay,' Is Unhealthy For Children

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The American Psychological Association has condemned HB 1557, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which supporters argue helps keep education focused on the fundamentals and prevents children from being exposed to topics that are beyond their understanding.

"It's about protecting parents ability to be involved," Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

CBS4 first talked with Natasha Poulopoulous, a pediatric psychologist.  She often sees young patients at a Miami area hospital.

"Children begin to have an innate of their identity between 3 and 5, so this is truly happening for children in their mind and cognitively," Poulopoulous said.

Now, these questions will have to be restricted in schools leaving some more confused.

"Heterosexual cisgender peers, it's helpful for them to understand what their peers are going through, it helps them understand the harm that bullying has," she explained.

As a clinical psychologist with Nova Southeastern University, Maribel Del Rio Roberts recognizes the need for parents to be involved. But not all households are supportive, leaving some kids no place to turn.

"Conversely, it can cause more harm if the child feels in some way, the way they feel about themselves is wrong, or they're unable to talk about it.  I do think the part where school staff are obligated or mandated to be reported or to tell the parents could be premature could be harmful," she said.

CBS4 also reached out to the American Psychological Association and talked with Clinton Anderson, a psychologist and interim chief of public interest.

"Anytime a child raises a question and they're told we can't talk about that, that's not appropriate, now that's going to be a shaming experience," he explained.

He also said the bill undermines all the work that has been done towards acceptance.

"Now, all that is going to be thrown into doubt by school systems, and they're going to have to re-think things that they have done that has been very positive, so I'm very concerned how this is going to end up."

The Federal Department of Education has also condemned the governor for signing the bill. It said it would monitor what happens at schools in Florida.


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