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Louisiana's take on 'Don't Say Gay' bill to limit gender discussion in classrooms passes, heads to governor

3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago Thursday, May 23 2024 May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024 3:38 PM May 23, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana Senate gave final passage Thursday to a bill that would outlaw the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

The Senate voted 28-7 on the bill that the House previously voted 69-28 on.

The bill, which is similar to "Don't Say Gay" legislation in Florida and Texas, heads to Gov. Jeff Landry's desk. He is expected to sign the bill.

HB122, authored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, would prohibit teachers from discussing "sexual orientation or gender identity in any classroom discussion or instruction in a manner that deviates from state content standards or curricula developed or approved by public school governing authorities." 

HB122's restrictions would apply to kindergarten to 12th grade classrooms.

Teachers would also be barred from discussing their own sexual orientation or gender identity. Based on the text of the bill, this would cover members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as those who identify as heterosexual. Critics of other "Don't Say Gay" bills say the legislation targets members of the various communities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

“This is a hateful piece of legislation,” state Public Service Commissioner Devante Lewis, Louisiana’s first openly gay elected state official, told the Republican-controlled Senate committee when Horton proposed a similar bill in 2023. That version was ultimately vetoed by former Gov. John Bel Edwards.

When Horton proposed a bill similar to HB122 in 2022, she claimed the bill was needed to protect children.

"I started to pray about how we could protect our children here from inappropriate conversations until they are able to dissect it and old enough to understand it," Horton told WBRZ in 2022. "I talked to my pastor and he challenged me and said, 'we definitely need to do this.'"

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