Missouri’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill advances
On April 21, 2012 At 10:07 am
Responses : 3 Comments
Apparently copying Tennessee, a Missouri committee in the House passed its own “Don’t Say Gay” bill last Thursday. Rep. Steve Cookson (R-153) sponsors the House bill 2051 and referred to the Elementary and Secondary Education committee on April 19. The bill is also co-sponsored by Speaker-elect Tim Jones (R-089), Rep. John Diehl (R—106), and current Speaker Steven Tilley (R-106).
The text of the bill is short, but the intent is wide-ranging:
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.
Gay rights supporters state the bill violates First Amendment rights. They also state that the bill is directed at Gays and Lesbians, preventing Gays and Straights from meeting in public schools and the bill does nothing to protect students.
"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," said PROMO Executive Director, A.J. Bockelman. "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 inTennesseelast year led that state’s legislature to become the object of national ridicule?"
"It’s clear that this proposed bill does absolutely nothing to protect students," continued Bockelman. "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."
Supporters of Gay rights also believe the bill damages the education of students concerning LBGT issues, “causing significant damage” and threatens the ability for LBGT alliance groups to meet in high schools.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Stanley Cookson (R) and has attracted 19 GOP co-sponsors, “including the two most powerful leaders in the House, Speaker Steve Tilley and Majority Leader Tim Jones (yes, the same Tim Jones who is a plaintiff in Orly Taitz’ birther lawsuits).”
The Turner report also discusses a case called “The Tinker Case”, where high school students, in Webb City, suspended for wearing Pro-Gay shirts and suing. One was gay and eventually dropped out due to pressures he faced in school. Once he dropped out of school, the lawsuit was dropped, but a straight student picked up the torch, wore a Pro-Gay t-shirt, and the school suspended him for it. He then filed a lawsuit on behalf of his gay friend. The case is ten years old, but Turner believes the case is still relevant today, including in his classrooms, which also caused students to write well thought out papers for class.
According to the Turner report, the bill prohibits any discussion of homosexuality, which means such discussions he creates in class with the Tinker Case would be prohibited if House Bill 2051 passes. Other topics that the bill prohibits are discussion about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and Gay Civil Rights and marriage, even if these topics are part of the Presidential campaign.