Missouri Advances “Don’t Say Gay” Bill
State follows Tennessee’s lead by aiming to ban allusions to homosexuality in schools
Some people believe that you can “pray the gay away.” Others apparently believe that if no one utters the word “gay,” homosexuals will cease to exist. Take the state of Missouri, where a bill that aims to ban references to sexual orientation in schools recently advanced in the state house. HB 2051, sponsored by Rep. Steve Cookson, mandates the following:
“Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.”
The Missouri measure echoes Tennessee’s Don’t Say Gay Bill, which advanced in the state House last week. The Tennessee measure, known as House Bill 229, prohibits educators from discussing “alternative lifestyles” with students in grades K through 8, even though it is already against the law there to teach sex ed to children in those grades. Teachers who defied the law could face fines and jail time.
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Critics of the bill say it not only discriminates against the gay community but it also violates free speech. Moreover, if passed, HB 2051 would mark the end of Gay-Straight Alliance clubs on school campuses. The head of PROMO, a leading Missouri gay advocacy group, has condemned the proposed legislation.
“Filing this bill is a desperate tactic by frightened, bigoted, cynical individuals who are terrified at the advancement the LGBT community has made in breaking down the barriers to full and equal treatment under the law,” said A.J. Bockelman PROMO’s executive director. “Why else would they file a bill so clearly out of step with the growing trend for fairness in this state when similar legislation filed in Tennessee last year led that state’s legislature to become the object of national ridicule?”
PROMO has also launched a petition against HB 251, available here.