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Local Mental Health Expert Explains Possible Impacts From 'Don't Say Gay' Bill

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - A local mental health expert specializing in LGBTQ counseling is explaining how the "Don't Say Gay" law will impact students and teachers.

When it comes to the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill that was signed into law on Monday, LGBTQ mental health counselor, Amyn Ali, says it could be detrimental to queer students.

"If they don't feel comfortable around those people or comfortable identifying themselves around those people, that will create almost a mental block for gender progression because they won't be able to express themselves truly. It's going to have immediate impacts on their mental health. It's going to create trust issues with the people around them," said Ali.

The bill would keep educators in the state from having instructional conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity in Kindergarten through third grades.

"Limiting when and where a child can express themselves safely, may prevent them from feeling comfortable in their own shoes," said Ali.

Ali, who owns Queer Mind Counseling, says being so young, children need support to understand their feelings.

"If you can't truly be open about yourself it starts to create a sense of questioning of what is right and wrong which can lead to cognitive dissidence which is basically the differentiation of what we want to believe or what we believe compared to what is true or what is right," said Ali.

He says the impacts can follow young children into their adult lives.

"Self-deprecations, self-loathing, it can lead to a lot of depressive moods, anxiety moods, trust issues which can impact future relationships," said Ali.

Many Floridians, including Governor Ron DeSantis, say children at such a young age should not be thinking about sexual orientation or gender identity. But no matter how this new legislation progresses, Ali says queer youth should find someone to trust and share their emotions with.

"Whether the legislation says you can talk about it, you can't show it, it is okay to be who you are," said Ali.

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