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Pete Buttigieg slams Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill as ‘dangerous’ for LGBT+ community

Maggie Baska February 12, 2022
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Pete Buttigieg stands at a podium dressed in a suit and tie with his hands raised

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on 8 November 2021. (Getty/Win McNamee)

Out transport secretary Pete Buttigieg has condemned Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill as being “dangerous” for LGBT+ youth.

Buttigieg – who is first openly gay, Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary – told CNN that the reviled bill would tell LGBT+ kids or the parents of queer children that there is “something wrong with them”.

He also warned the proposed legislation could have a disastrous impact on the mental health of LGBT+ youth in the state.

During the interview, Buttigieg was outright asked if he thought the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was “dangerous”, and he immediately answered: “Absolutely”.

“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,” Buttigieg said.

Pete Buttigieg added that his husband, Chasten, had pointed out that the proposed legislation would have a horrific impact on how their children can talk about their family while at school.

He said: “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?’

“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.”

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg, who are husbands, are dressed in suits and ties for an event
Pete and Chasten Buttigieg attend the 44th Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on 5 December 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty/Paul Morigi)

Florida House Bill 1557 and Senate Bill 1834 – which have both been dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” bills – would ban teachers from “from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels”, or at any level if the discussion is “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.

Under the legislation, parents would be able to sue schools should teachers or school officials discuss gender identity and sexuality with students.

Chasten Buttigieg slammed the bills in a searing post on Twitter in January. He called out Florida governor Ron DeSantis for making the state a “harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive”.

“This [bill] will kill kids, [DeSantis],” Chasten wrote. “You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in.”

In a different interview with CNN, Chasten blasted Florida lawmakers for “essentially pushing kids back into the closet” with such hateful legislation.

“You’re saying, ‘We can’t talk about you. We can’t even talk about your families’,” Chasten added.

President Joe Biden and the White House have harshly denounced the anti-LGBT+ bills on social media.

Biden wrote that he would “continue to fight” for the “protections and safety” the LGBT+ community deserves.

“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden wrote.

“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”

His message of support for the queer community echoed comments from the White House which condemned “conservative politicians” for advancing a bill “designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids”.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

More: Florida, Pete Buttigieg

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