Homophobia Alive and Well in the Missouri House
Homophobia has reared its ugly head in the Missouri House again in the form of HB 2051 which would “prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction.”
This sort of legislation is a direct attack on the LGBT community and the children and teens who identify as such. Groups such as the Gay-Straight Alliance which are formed to offer support and understanding to teens in high school would likely be prohibited from being formed as they would be prohibited from “discussing sexual orientation in extracurricular activity.”
Let’s be clear. This bill, while clearly a flagrant violation of the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech, not only attempts to prohibit schools from even discussing gay and lesbian issues; it also aims to keep Gay-Straight Alliances from meeting on school grounds as approved extracurricular entities.
For the last several years, PROMO and our allies have worked to advance pro-lgbt legislation, and we are seeing steady, continuing success. 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. 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?
As the Executive Director for PROMO, Missouri’s Statewide organization advocating for the LGBT community, it’s clear that this proposed bill does absolutely nothing to protect students. In some ways, 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.
Given the national conversation about bullying and the fact that gay teens and young adults have been committing suicide in large numbers after facing bullying in their schools and social circles, you would think that our leaders would try to create welcoming environments for kids, but this sort of legislation is the exact opposite. HB 2051 would be bullying enshrined in Missouri law.
I highly doubt that the 20+ white men who have sponsored and cosponsored this attackhave seen the documentary Bully which follows a number of children across the country who are bullied for different reasons, one of which is their sexuality, but it would behoove these bigots to take two hours out of their lives to watch it and understand what sort of impact this sort of moronic legislation could have on our children.
Here’s the trailer:
The full text of the bill is after the jump.
HB 2051 - Prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction
Sponsor: Steve Cookson
Co-sponsors: Steve Tilley, Birther Tim Jones, John Diehl, Dwight Scharnhorst, Andrew Koenig, Birther Lyle Rowland, Charlie Dennison, Lindell Shumake, Kurt Bahr, Don Wells, Eric Burlison, Dave Schatz, Doug Funderburk, Jeff Grisamore, Mark Parkison, Paul Fitzwater, Bill Lant, Mike McGhee, Jay Houghton
Full text of bill:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 170, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 170.370, to read as follows:
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.