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Louisiana passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying parents can’t trust LGBTQ+ teachers without it

Protest against \"Don't Say Gay\" in Fort Myers, Fla., on March 6, 2022. Syndication The News Press
Protest against "Don't Say Gay" in Fort Myers, Fla., on March 6, 2022. Syndication The News Press Photo: Andrew West/The News-Press via USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Louisiana Legislature has passed H.B. 122, which bans discussions of gender and sexuality in public schools. The bill is now going to Republican Governor Jeff Landry, who is expected to sign it.

The bill makes it so discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation is not allowed in public schools in all grade levels. H.B. 122 restricts discussions for grades K-12 and in extracurricular and athletic settings. Topics in the approved curriculum are an exception to the law.

The bill, first introduced by state Rep. Dodie Horton (R), passed the state senate 28-7 yesterday. The state house approved it 69-28 in April.

According to the Louisiana Illuminator, Horton admitted in committee her bill would also block discussion of heterosexuality and cisgender identity. She also spoke out against teachers discussing “lifestyle choices” with their students.

“Having sexualized personal discussions between educators and students in our classrooms are not appropriate, and they can rob our children of their innocence while imposing suggested influence over their developing young minds,” Horton said when her bill came up in committee. 

State Sen. Beth Mizell (R) carried the bill in the state senate. When asked whether the bill would negatively impact students, she said that was not its intended purpose and then claimed that parents can’t trust LGBTQ+ school employees unless they’re banned from speaking about their personal lives.

“It’s good to have a safe place where parents can have some confidence, for instance, if there is an LGBTQ employee, I think letting parents know, ‘OK, I’m fine with that person, because I know they can’t talk to my child about their sexual orientation, no more than I would want a promiscuous male or female teacher to talk to my child about their sexual partners,’” Mizell said. 

The bill is harmful to LGBTQ+ youth because it “oppresses and stigmatizes young people who are struggling,” said state Sen. Royce Duplessis (D).

“I don’t think there’s a need for this bill.”

LGBTQ+ advocates opposed the bill.

“There is absolutely nothing inappropriate about being LGBTQ+ or in acknowledging LGBTQ+ issues and people. Furthermore, denying transgender and non-binary youth access to best-practice, life-saving medical care puts their lives in very real danger,” said HRC’s Cathryn Oakley in a statement last year when the same bill was introduced in the legislature.

The portion of the bill that restricts “covering the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity” during extra-curricular activities may spell the end of LGBTQ+ student organizations, such as GSAs, in Louisiana public schools.

Next week, the state senate is planning to discuss H.B. 121 by state Rep. Raymond Crews (R). This bill would ban trans and nonbinary youth from using names and pronouns different than the ones assigned at birth in public K-12 schools unless their parents gave permission.

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