Coco Gauff has spoken out against a Florida bill that seeks to stop in-class discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for students in certain grade levels at schools.
The teenage tennis star, who turns 18 this weekend, was asked about the ‘Parental Rights in Education measure’ when she spoke to reporters as part of her preparations for the Indian Wells tournament.
The bill, which is being commonly referred to as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has recently passed both chambers of the Florida legislature with Governor Ron DeSantis expected to sign it into law.
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However, Gauff is strongly opposed to a measure that has caused much debate across the US with discussion raging about what schools should actually teach children about race and gender.
“I’m against it,”she said. “I think these conversations are important, and for me, who has friends in the LGBTQ+ community, I couldn’t imagine not being able to talk about your identity. I feel that’s something that is normal.
“Every [LGBTQ+] person I’ve known has known that they were part of that community since they were young. 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.”
The Republican-backed legislation is opposed by the Democrats who claim it would be detrimental to the LGBTQ+ community.
Gauff, who is currently ranked number 19 in the world, believes a bill that denies classroom instruction in public schools on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade (or for those nine and under) has similarities to the struggle against racial injustice.
“I think it was in 2019 or 2020 when I talked about the Black Lives Matter movement – I said it was important to have those conversations,” Gauff said. “Same stance on this. I think it’s important to have those tough conversations, and from the people that I spoke to who are part of the community, it definitely makes a difference when you don’t have to hide who you are.”
Gauff will kick off her bid for Indian Wells glory when she meets compatriot Claire Liu in the second round after receiving a bye into the last 64.
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