Louisiana, the state that already limits sex education classes to heterosexuality only, is considering new legislation that would take it a step further. The bill’s supporters say it is modeled after Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill that has spawned national condemnation.
But this bill wouldn’t just forbid teachers from mentioning LGBTQ topics to elementary school students. It would ban LGBTQ K-8 teachers from answering honestly if a student asks about their sexual orientation or gender identity; it would be a crime to come out to the student.
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State Rep. Dodie Horton (R) admits that Florida’s bill inspired her and that her preacher egged her on, saying that she read about Florida’s GOP-sponsored attack on children online.
“It just solidified the need for us to protect our Louisiana children as well,” she said. “I started to pray about how we could protect our children here from inappropriate conversations until they are able to dissect it and old enough to understand it.”
“So, I talked to my pastor and he challenged me and said we just may need to do this.”
Still, while the Florida legislation inspired her, she insists that it’s not the same as the Sunshine State’s blatant bigotry.
“This is not a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill,” she said. “It has nothing to do with someone’s lifestyle choice. Their sexual orientation is between them and God and it’s their choice.”
“If we worked towards access to safe and inclusive classrooms, then individuals like Rep. Horton would understand that one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not a choice,” SarahJane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality, said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) made his opposition to the legislation clear.
“Some of the bills that are being brought up this session, they really don’t do anything to make lives better, they don’t continue to move us forward, they do however serve to divide us and some are reminiscent of a dark past that we should have learned from and not relive,” Edwards said.
“The level of cruelty in these bills is tragic, and it’s shocking that some legislators can’t understand that this bigoted legislation creates terrible harm for kids.” New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno added.
The council has authored a resolution condemning the proposed law; it was co-sponsored by every member.