A Louisiana bill considered perhaps the most extreme “Don’t Say Gay” proposal in the country was shot down by a state House committee Tuesday, as more Republican-controlled state legislatures move to copy controversial legislation Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law in March.
The bill was rejected by Louisiana’s House Committee On Education in a 7-4 vote, with three Republicans joining all the committee’s Democrats in opposing the legislation.
So-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation largely centers around banning classroom lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Louisiana proposal went a step farther in prohibiting school employees from discussing their own sexual orientation or gender identity.
The wording of the bill drew widespread criticism, since banning the discussion of gender identity would appear to make it illegal for teachers to ask students to refer to them by gender-related titles like “Mr.,” “Ms.” or “Mrs.”
Bill author Rep. Dodie Horton (R) claimed at Tuesday’s Education Committee meeting that was not the bill’s intention, but lawmakers struck down an amendment that would have removed the line about teachers discussing gender identity before ultimately killing the bill.
The governors of Florida and Alabama have already signed legislation broadly banning discussions of sexual orientation in public school classrooms, while GOP lawmakers in several other states have proposed similar bills, including in Georgia, Ohio, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana and Tennessee. LGBTQ rights advocates have strongly opposed the efforts, arguing the bills discriminate against LGBTQ teachers and could have harmful impacts on LGBTQ students.
Florida moved to punish Disney for speaking out against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, with GOP lawmakers quickly passing legislation last month dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which let Walt Disney World operate as a self-governing entity. DeSantis and Republicans in the Florida legislature have come under criticism for what many believe is an ill-conceived, knee-jerk response to Disney, noting taxpayers could now be burdened with Reedy Creek’s nearly $1 billion worth of debts, among other expenses.
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