Mental health expert available to discuss impact of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ billsApril 7, 20222 min read
Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill has officially been signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill prohibits public school teachers in kindergarten through third grade from discussing anything related to sexual orientation or gender identity with their students. Similar bills restricting discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools have been proposed in more than a dozen states across the country, including Louisiana.
Tulane University child and adolescent psychiatrist and pediatrician Dr. Myo Thwin Myint, an expert in LGBTQ+ health, is available to discuss the potential impacts these bills could have on children, parents and teachers.
“The Florida bill was written so broadly and there’s a concern that when a child has a question or wants to have discussions about different types of families and they're curious about it, the teacher won’t be able to explain appropriately without the fear of getting sued,” Myint said. “For example, second graders who have same-sex parents may be curious and want to ask questions. This is not about teaching explicit sexual acts to the children. This is about having the right to talk to kids about the diverse nature of human relationships and human identities, which every kid should have an opportunity to learn.”
Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth face much higher risks of depression, suicide and health issues when compared to their straight or cisgender peers. Restricting education about LGBTQ+ relationships and families could amplify these issues, cause long-term harm, and make LGBTQ families feel isolated and marginalized, Myint said.
“By making their gender identity or sexual orientation — or of their parents —a forbidden topic, children are going to internalize that shame, which has a risk of long-term impacts on their mental health,” Myint said.
These bills could pressure LGBTQ+ families to hide who they are, causing a significant impact on how LGBTQ children and families see themselves in their communities, the country and the world, Myint said.
Louisiana lawmakers passed the fairness in women's sports act last year to ban transgender athletes from participating in sports of their affirmed gender, but the bill was later vetoed. A similar bill is under consideration this year while another bill, House Bill 570, would restrict gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Myint is associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine. For interviews, contact Lance Sumler at email@example.com or 504-777-0132.
Myo Thwin Myint, MD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics; Training Director, Triple Board (Pediatrics/ Psychiatry/ Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) Residency and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Programs
Dr. Myint is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and pediatrician who specializes in LGBTQ health, medical education and advocacy.