CultureWednesday 03.16.22

Why Aren’t More Athletes Speaking Out Against “Don’t Say Gay”?

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America’s athletes are often a vocal contingent on all kinds of social causes. But so far, there’s been little response from sports players to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Known to its opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, it would ban any classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through grade three; prohibit lessons in other grades unless they are “age-appropriate”; and allow parents to sue school districts if they think teachers are not in compliance.

Opposition to the bill has been fierce overall, led by Democratic leaders including President Biden. Students in Florida have staged walkouts, believing the bill will stigmatize LGBTQIA kids, stoke bullying and attacks, stifle important conversations, and lead to a wave of lawsuits that could damage cash-strapped school systems.

Only one prominent athlete, tennis player Coco Gauff, has voiced opposition to the bill, saying last week that she “couldn’t imagine not being able to support your identity. I think it’s important that they have those conversations in school, because that is supposed to be a safe space to talk about everything.”

LZ and Will talk about why it is that no other athletes have said anything about “Don’t Say Gay,” despite a measure of mainstreamed support for the LGBTQIA community. The answer? A lingering transphobia and homophobia — and relative absence of openly queer athletes — in the sports world, as well as a more straightforward cause: activism fatigue.

“You're asking athletes to now not only be aware of the issue at its onset, but also to follow through and be aware of the detailed conversations that's happening on a state legislative level,” LZ said. “And I think that's just asking a lot out of people in general, and maybe asking a lot of athletes specifically.”

The Long Game