Louisiana ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill advances out of committee

Apr 26, 2023, 4:43 PM

FILE - The Louisiana state Capitol stands on April 4, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. As several reliably...

FILE - The Louisiana state Capitol stands on April 4, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. As several reliably red states adopt legislation that prohibits school employees from teaching or discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, Louisiana advanced its own “Don’t Say Gay” bill Wednesday, April 26. (AP Photo/Stephen Smith, File)

(AP Photo/Stephen Smith, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — As several conservative states adopt legislation that prohibits school employees from teaching or discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, Louisiana advanced its own “Don’t Say Gay” bill Wednesday.

The anti-LGBTQ+ measure was narrowly approved by a Republican-controlled House committee and heads to the full House, where an emotionally charged debate over the culture war measure is all but guaranteed. It comes as hundreds of bills have been filed in statehouses taking aim at nearly every facet of transgender existence — from health care to athletics to bathroom access — and the LGBTQ+ community.

“This bill would erase someone like me,” Maxwell Cohen, 27, who identified as transgender, told Louisiana lawmakers Wednesday. “This piece of legislation tells queer kids that they must hide, that they don’t matter and that they are wrong. But we know that’s far from the truth. We must protect queer kids and acknowledge them for who they are, because they exist, they are special, and they matter.”

Last year, Florida became the first state to pass what critics call the expanded to include all grades, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.

Republicans argue that parents should broach these subjects with children on their own. Democrats say the law demonizes and isolates LGBTQ+ people by excluding them from classroom lessons. They also say it creates a chilling effect on teachers who fear being penalized for mentioning anything related to homosexuality.

As of March, there were at least 30 proposals similar to Florida’s law, filed in 16 states. So far, three other states — Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky — have enacted similar “Don’t Say Gay” laws.

The bill that advanced 7-5 from a Louisiana House committee on Wednesday would ban K-12 public school staff from teaching or discussing gender identity and sexual orientation, including during any extracurricular activity. Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton, who authored the legislation, said the bill has “nothing to do with someone’s personal lifestyle,” but rather was created to “protect all children.”

Opponents who spoke against the bill for nearly three hours — at times with tears in their eyes and a couple yelling at lawmakers — said the bill would do the opposite, harming students. Many cited that LGBTQ+ students already are at high risk of bullying and depression, and that the bill could send vulnerable members of the queer community spiraling further into depression and anxiety.

Among the opponents was Elliot Wade, a member of Louisiana Trans Advocates. He discussed the importance of being able to confide in and talk to teachers about gender identity and sexual orientation. In high school, when Wade came out as transgender, the first people he told were teachers.

“Coming out was not an option for me, it was that or death. I don’t mean that as a hyperbole, I mean that literally,” Wade told lawmakers. “If I didn’t come out and live as my truth then I was going to end my life … I wouldn’t be here talking to you today — I just wouldn’t be here. There are a lot of people who are not here, even without a bill like this passing.”

Louisiana’s bill would also require teachers to use the pronouns that align with a student’s birth sex. A similar bill, which would also require school employees to use pronouns and the name of a student that correlate with their birth certificate, also advanced out of the committee Wednesday. Both pieces of legislation have an exception if the student’s parent provides written permission to do otherwise.

Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews, who authored the bill, said the legislation was created to “solidify and identify parent’s rights to raise children,” to decrease the “distraction” that he says pronouns are causing in classrooms and to protect teachers and school board members from “this type of politicization.”

The pronoun legislation in Louisiana is among a wave of interchangeable bills being considered in statehouses across the nation, which would formally allow or require schools to deadname transgender students or could out them to their parents without consent. Deadnaming refers to using the name a transgender person used prior to transitioning.

National News

Associated Press

Woman rescued from partially collapsed Iowa apartment building amid calls to delay demolition

A woman was rescued more than a day after a six-story apartment building partially collapsed in Davenport, Iowa, and after city officials pushed for it to be demolished, saying it was in “imminent danger” of coming down. Protesters urged for a delay, concerned that people could still be trapped inside. Protesters carried signs Tuesday morning […]

7 hours ago

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and members of the Biden family walk to the grave of the...

Associated Press

Biden attends memorial Mass to mark 8 years since son Beau’s death from brain cancer

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President death of his son Beau, by attending a memorial Mass and visiting his gravesite. Biden, his wife, Jill, and other family members prayed for Beau Biden during the Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine, the Roman Catholic church where the president worships during weekends at his home near Wilmington, […]

7 hours ago

A worker stands next to a Tesla being charged in Beijing, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. China’s foreign ...

Associated Press

US ends probe into Tesla allowing video games while vehicles are moving, says feature was disabled

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. highway safety regulators have closed an investigation into Tesla allowing video games to be played on center touch screens while vehicles are moving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Tuesday that Tesla disabled the feature called “passenger play” with an online software update in December of 2021, […]

7 hours ago

Goats graze on dry grass next to a housing complex in West Sacramento, Calif., on May 17, 2023. Goa...

Associated Press

No kidding: California overtime law threatens use of grazing goats to prevent wildfires

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of goats munch on long blades of yellow grass on a hillside next to a sprawling townhouse complex. They were hired to clear vegetation that could fuel wildfires as temperatures rise this summer. These voracious herbivores are in high demand to devour weeds and shrubs that have proliferated across […]

7 hours ago

People walk past the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 in New York. (AP Photo/Jul...

Associated Press

Stock market today: US futures mostly higher ahead of debt ceiling vote, oil falls again

Wall Street pointed mostly higher early Tuesday after President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached an agreement on a deal to raise the U.S. national debt ceiling. Futures for the Dow were flat the S&P 500 rose 0.7% before the bell. Biden and McCarthy are now working to gather votes needed to gain […]

7 hours ago

FILE - FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court in New York, Feb. 16, 2023. (AP...

Associated Press

Prosecutors say Sam Bankman-Fried’s arguments to dismiss cryptocurrency charges are meritless

NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers made meritless arguments in a bid to convince a judge to toss out criminal charges alleging that the FTX founder stole from investors in his multibillion dollar cryptocurrency fund, federal prosecutors said Monday. In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors responded to early May filings in which […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Louisiana ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill advances out of committee