Missouri lawmakers late last week advanced a Tennessee style “Don’t Say Gay” education bill that would also serve to ban LGBT positive groups in schools.
The bill, introduced last month to little attention, has now been referred to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
HB 2051 seeks to ban teachers from talking about sexuality other than heterosexual reproduction, and desires ban all mention and expression sexuality in schools outside of that context, saying:
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.
Whether the legislation’s rather open definition of “human reproduction” science will cause the bill problems as it has done in Tennessee remains to be seen. For instance, how will the legislation effect current sex education (or lack thereof), and what of IVF and other reproduction science subjects?
Still, the bill is co-sponsored by a swathe of House GOP members such as Speaker-elect Tim Jones (R-089), Rep. John Diehl (R-087) and current Speaker Steven Tilley (R-106).
Because the measure goes so far as to ban extracurricular activities that exceed its mandate, it would seem to ban gay-straight alliances. This, LGBT rights groups warn, is an unlawful blow to free speech that will not go unchallenged.
“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,” A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the state’s LGBT rights group PROMO, is quoted as saying.
“It’s clear that this proposed bill does nothing to protect students. In some way, however, these enemies of Freedom of Speech have done us a favor. By attempting to coerce teachers and students into making this core reality of our lives literally unspeakable, they have only proved why LGBT students need greater, better, and stronger protection in our schools.”