Republicans Introduce Bill To Restrict LGBTQ-Related Educational Materials and Programs
More than 30 House Republicans introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the use of federal funds for “sexually-oriented” materials for children under the age of 10 — effectively nationalizing and broadening the scope of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that has led teachers to remove LGBTQ-friendly material from classrooms.
The bill, called the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act of 2022,” defines “sexually-oriented material” as “any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.”
If passed, the legislation would affect all federally funded facilities and programs, including public libraries, federally funded schools, military bases and hospitals. This would include prohibiting schools and libraries from providing sex education or books that include LGBTQ topics to children under 10.
“This bill serves no other purpose than to spread lies in an attempt to erase LGBTQ people, but we will not be erased,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told HuffPost. “Regardless of its chances of passage, which seem low, the damage is already done.”
A majority of LGBTQ youth say that anti-LGBTQ political conversations, including proposed bans on classroom materials that are relevant to them, negatively impact their mental health, according to a recent study by the Trevor Project. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 LGBTQ youth attempted suicide last year. “We need leaders who want to solve real problems, not bully innocent kids,” said Ellis.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who introduced the bill, described it as “commonsense,” claiming that Democrats are on a “misguided crusade” to expose children to “sexual imagery and radical gender ideology.”
“No federal tax dollars should go to any federal, state, or local government agencies, or private organizations that intentionally expose children under 10 years of age to sexually explicit material,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Some LGBTQ advocates and critics of the bill are calling the legislation a national version of Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed in March.
Similar to the Florida law, Johnson’s bill could lead to parents suing teachers of all grades at schools that use federal dollars over what the bill defines as “sexually-oriented” materials or programs for children.
Ellis says it’s tough that this legislation was introduced just days before Spirit Day, a day for LGBTQ youth to celebrate their increasing visibility across the country and speak out against bullying.
“Instead of joining the rising tide of acceptance and bipartisan support for LGBTQ people, these extremist politicians are trying to score political points and propose a bill filled with misinformation with the futile attempt of smearing and erasing who we are,” Ellis said.
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