Sponsor of so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill answers questions about bill’s scope

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A controversial bill could cause confusion in the classroom. The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill would ban gender identity and sexuality from lesson plans in kindergarten to third grades.

The measure still allows for kids to talk about their parents being gay and would allow them to write papers about their parents being gay, but the school would not be allowed to teach about anyone being gay.

There are many people with lots to say about the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, but what exactly does the bill say?

State representatives asked the bill’s sponsor, Joe Harding, specific hypothetical scenarios about what would and would not be allowed in the classroom if the measure became law.

What would not be allowed? No classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity would be allowed for kids from kindergarten to third grade.

There would be no instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity for grades three and up unless the state considers the topic “developmentally and age-appropriate.”

According to Representative Harding, a book in a library about sexual orientation or gender identity would still be allowed. “Just because a book is available to a student doesn’t mean it’s part of the instruction,” said Harding.

A conversation about a student’s family? Representative Dianne Hart asked Harding, “would an instructor be allowed to talk about him having two fathers?”

“Having a conversation on the family is not an instruction. I think it’s just important to point to the difference in conversation and instruction,” said Harding.

What about discussing a student’s essay, even if they wrote about their gay parents? Representative Andrew Learned, “what if that paper wins an award in the class, could the teacher highlight that because that would make it somewhat instructional?”

“I would disagree. Highlighting a paper is not instructional,” said Harding. He said the same goes for school-wide assemblies.

That’s not good enough for democratic lawmakers, though, and it’s not good enough for so many students and their parents who said this bill would stigmatize LGBTQ+ youth and cause irreparable harm.

If the bill passes and the school violates its standards, parents will have the right to sue.

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