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South Florida Students Rally Against 'Don't Say Gay' Bill In Florida Legislature

WILTON MANORS (CBSMiami) – A group of about a hundred people gathered outside the Pride Center in Wilton Manors Tuesday, rallying against a proposal in the Florida legislature that would limit discussion about LGBTQ issues at school.

Lana Goff, an 11th grader in Broward County, is one of those students.

"I first came out when I was in 7th grade," she said.

She's very worried about a bill in Tallahassee that opponents call "Don't Say Gay."

"It just should be more normalized and talked about in class and not, 'that's kind of a touchy subject, let's not talk about this,'" she said.

The bill is part of a Parental Rights in Education proposal.

Part of it says, "A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age appropriate…"

"It's a radical roll back of the calendar," said Scott Galvin. He is the executive director of Safe Schools South Florida and a long-time city council member in North Miami. He worries this has a good chance of becoming law.

"It will stop teachers and schools from talking to kids about LGBTQ issues and it will stop them from talking about gay issues among themselves," he said.

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Republican State Senator Dennis Baxley from North Central Florida is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

"Obviously there will be generic discussions about life in their dialogue. There's no effort to squash that," State Sen. Baxley said.

He says this is all about parents' rights and being involved in what their children are learning.

"Parents have the primary role in leading the development of their children. It's important that we're not using school time to work social agendas and social engineering," he said.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis weighed in during a South Florida stop on Tuesday.

"I think a lot of parents have very strong beliefs about what is appropriate for the school system to be discussing and certainly in terms of trying to affirmatively push kids in one direction or another in some of these areas," Gov. DeSantis said.

Those opposed, however, fear the policy may imply the way someone identifies is something to be ashamed of or hidden.

"When I was young, I couldn't be out. And it's important," says Tom Landers, a former teacher and board member of Safe Schools South Florida. "As a history teacher, I always make sure that I mention people from all parts of our community."

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis also says the bill does not take into account the fact that not everyone's family unit looks the same.

"To say that we fit into this cubicle of a notion that, you know, it's a mother and a father, and a boy and a girl, it's not America anymore. It never was," he says. "And to hide behind that message is only to estrange people from within their own family unit."

The bill is making its way through the Florida House of Representatives. It has not been introduced in the Senate yet.

Click here to read the whole bill here.

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