Tennis star Coco Gauff attacks Florida law that marginalizes LGBTQ+ people | Coco Gauff

Tennis star Coco Gauff has voiced her opposition to a bill in her home state of Florida that would prohibit classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity for many young students.

“I’m against it,” Gauff told reporters on Wednesday in California, where she is preparing for the Indian Wells tournament. “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.”

The Florida measure, referred to by its opponents as the “Don’t say gay” bill, has stirred national controversy amid an increasingly partisan debate over what schools should teach children about race and gender.

“Every [LGBTQ+] person I’ve known has known that they were part of that community since they were young,” the 17-year-old Gauff said. “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, formally called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, bars classroom instruction in public schools on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade, or for those nine and under.

Democrats say such policies will harm the LGBTQ+ community.

Gauff rose to prominence as a 15-year-old when she defeated Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019. She is currently ranked No 19 in the world.

She said she sees parallels between the Florida bill and the struggle for racial justice, another issue she is passionate about.

“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.”

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