April 23, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
There’s a new trend happening across the country in which legislators attempt to silence people who are LGBT via passage of “Don’t Say Gay” laws – erasing any school discussions of LGBT people and even refusing to step in and stop anti-LGBT bullying through educating students about the harms it causes. In Tennessee, their “Don’t Say Gay” bill, authored by state senator Stacey Campfield, passed out of committee a week ago.
Now Missouri is joining in on this tactic. They’ve referred to committee their own “Don’t Say Gay” bill:
170.370. 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.
This bill appears to be broader than Tennessee’s. Tennessee recently advanced a measure protecting Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools, but it appears that this measure in Missouri could potentially ban those groups, since they’re an “extracurricular activity” that “discusses sexual orientation… other than human reproduction.” This would be an enormous problem because these groups can often be the only welcoming place inside a school environment. And since they allow gay and straight students alike to talk to each other about these issues, they provide a great educational opportunity. Banning them could cause serious harm:
In its entirety, the bill would not only outlaw any discussion of homosexuality in public schools, but it would also ban any GLBT groups on school grounds.
That’s something Hattie Svoboda-Stel, a junior at Saint Teresa’s Academy, said would give bullies a free pass to target gay students.
“If they’re unable to talk to about sexuality, or the fact that people are not straight, then if someone’s being bullied because of the sexual orientation, teachers wouldn’t be able to stick up or explain the situation or why it’s not ok,” she said.
It may also ban sex education except for heterosexual sex, and it could ban discussions of anti-LGBT bullying and teachers’ attempts to intervene to protect LGBT students. It could ban discussions of IVF. The bill has so far attracted 19 GOP cosponsors.