TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Students across the Tampa Bay area held walkouts on Thursday to show their opposition to a parental rights measure, known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Brandon High School students marched out of class chanting in protest.

“We’re back to like the 1990s, 2000s, where it was just being accepted and it was still taboo,” Brandon High School senior Jannet Cruz-Navarro said.

Students at several different schools from around the area all held walkouts at noon to protest.

“This is not OK, this is – to anyone that’s listening that’s even questioning whether this should be passed or should not – because it’s so harmful to queer youth today,” Isa Cacciavillani, the organizer of Pasco Schools Pride, said.

The bill would ban classroom instruction about “sexual orientation or gender identity” for elementary students. It would also require teachers and administrators to tell parents if their children discuss these topics.

“I knew I was queer, I’d say, in around third or fourth grade,” Cacciavillani said. “I’ve been called many things at school… a lot of it, it’s already not a safe space for me. Kids need someone to talk to and this would take that away.”

Cacciavillani worries if the bill passes, students will feel isolated and have no one to talk to.

“I know many people who have thought about suicide or committed suicide because of being out to the families and being subjected to hate,” she said.

The bill already passed in the state House. It now needs to go to the full Senate for a vote.

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