House Republicans announce national “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Image Sourced from

Jack Perdue, Contributor

Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson introduced legislation cracking down on “sexually-oriented material” in public elementary schools on Oct. 17. The “Stop Sexualization of Children Act,” which was supported by at least 32 other House Republicans, would restrict federal funding “to develop, implement, facilitate or fund any sexually-oriented program, event or literature for children under the age of 10.”

While Republicans pitched this bill as a way to restrict children’s exposure to sexual content, opponents claim that the vague language in the bill is meant to marginalize queer students and teachers.

The bill mirrors the Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was signed into law in March 2022 by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Since its passage, the law has received sharp backlash from LGBTQ+ groups and Democratic lawmakers.

“While I am saddened to see this harmful bill signed into law, I am inspired by the outpouring of support for LGBTQ+ students we have seen from parents, teachers, celebrities and their peers,” said Amit Paley, Trevor Project CEO.

While neither bill explicitly outlaws discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in schools, teachers and student administrators are worried about how these laws will be interpreted. If a judge deems that a teacher being openly gay constitutes “sexual material,” teachers will be forced to either keep their sexual orientation private or risk being fired.

“The bill’s intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ+ people from any grade level,” said Florida Rep. Carlos G. Smith.

Educational limitations are just one of the ways in which Republican lawmakers have focused their scrutiny on LGBTQ+ issues. Fifteen states have either passed laws or are considering bills that would limit access to trans-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released a report estimating that one out of three transgender children in the U.S. is at risk of losing access to treatments like hormone replacement therapy due to these laws.

In many cases, this can be a matter of life or death as trans-affirming care has been shown to drastically reduce suicidal ideation among those experiencing gender dysphoria.

Education has been a primary campaign issue for Republicans this election, waging war over what they see as the “grooming” of children in public schools. “The Democratic Party and their cultural allies are on a misguided crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology,” Johnson said.

The national “Don’t Say Gay” bill is unlikely to pass in a Democratically controlled Congress; however, Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives following the Nov. 8 midterm elections.