Opposition Mounts to Missouri's "Don't Say Gay" Bill for Schools

school bus rainbow flag.jpg
The gays! They're stealing our children!
A week after Republicans sponsors in the Missouri House referred it to committee, a bill that would severely restrict conversations about sexual orientation in public schools is under attack from a growing number of detractors including educators, doctors and fellow politicians.

HB 2051 would permit sexual orientation to be discussed only in "scientific instruction concerning human reproduction." School-sponsored clubs such as "gay-straight alliances" that deal with bullying and LGBT issues would be forbidden under the proposed law. So, too, would be conversations about homosexuality when discussing history, the arts, etc.

This week the Missouri National Educators Association, the state's largest teachers organization, blasted the bill, stating: "[L]egislation like the "Don't Say Gay" bill, proposed by Representative Steve Cookson shackles educator's efforts to prevent bullying in our public schools."
 
"Schools, above all, need to be safe havens for students - places where students can learn and realize their full potential," reiterated MNEA President Chris Guinther in a statement. "MNEA members realized a decade ago the need for a comprehensive program to counter the bullying culture in public schools in Missouri. That's when we invested in developing the No MOre Bullying program."

Yesterday the Missouri Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics also issued a public statement, saying:
This bill, which would prohibit any discussion of issues around sexual orientation in public schools, forbid teachers from addressing bullying based on sexual orientation, and likely ban gay-straight alliances, is clearly harmful to the best interests of the children of Missouri. All children and teenagers need to feel safe in their schools, and HB 2051 takes that assurance away from them. Rather, we would urge lawmakers to institute public policy that will help children feel safe in their schools and will ensure that their voice will always be heard.
Meanwhile, some 37 Democratic members of the House have called on the 20 Republican sponsors of the bill (including John Diehl of Town & Country and Tim Jones of Eureka) to withdraw their support of the measure.

"Public outrage has shown us that we are not doing enough to protect all students in schools. Students, teachers, administrators and those involved in the care of students all support being able to address sexual orientation and gender identity openly and compassionately," says State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights).

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