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Matthew’s Place

This National ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Needs to Be On Your Radar

By Isabella Zollner

IMAGE CREDIT: JOHNROB — ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Once again, the U.S. government is seeking to discriminate against and erase the LGBTQ+ community. As representation of LGBTQ+ people grows in American media, attempts to silence that representation grow as well. The most recent attack on LGBTQ+ representation comes from the Lousiana US Congressman Mike Johnson (R) and his national ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

The bill is barely 6 pages and has been openly criticized for its broad and vaguely worded legislation. It appears to be modeled after Florida’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, however Johnson’s iteration of it is significantly more severe. The Florida bill instructs that publicly funded schools can not teach any material related to gender identity or sexual orientation to children under ten years of age. That bill breeds misinformation and ignorance because it prevents formal and factual education about the LGBTQ+ community. But Johnson’s bill is even worse.

Johnson’s bill specifies that no federally funded institution can “develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature” for children younger than 10.” This bill would prevent not just education about the LGBTQ+ community but also any mention of it by a federally funded institution. Additionally, the bill specifies that all federally funded educational institutions must abide by its rules. Public libraries, colleges, museums, public schools, schools on military bases, and many others are included under this term. If the bill passed, none of them would be allowed to even mention gender identity or sexual orientation to children under ten.

Libraries- not just school libraries, but all libraries- would be required to remove books that talk about LGBTQ+ topics in kid-friendly ways. Public colleges wouldn’t be allowed to grant money to anybody doing research for or working with LGBTQ+ youth under ten. No federally funded institution could show a film with LGBTQ+ characters to an audience with kids in it. If any of these places violated the bill’s confusing and incredibly restricting literature, they could be subject to a number of severe punishments. First, parents or legal guardians could sue the federally funded institution that ‘exposed’ their child to content about gender identity or sexual orientation. The institution that violated this bill’s literature would be required to pay an unclear amount and the plaintiff’s court fees. Secondly, if an institution was found guilty of violating this law twice they would lose federal funding for three years. That much time without federal funding could put most schools and other public institutions out of business.

This bill is a clear attempt on Johnson’s part to permanently shut down any institution that tries to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture with children present. If this bill passed it would be detrimental to the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community in the past few decades. Children are the future of America and if they are cut off from any exposure to a very real and important part of American culture, what can we expect from them?

About the Author:

After being subjected to homophobic harassment in the classroom, Isabella decided to try and use her writing to encourage others to stand up for each other and themselves. Isabella is a high school student in Lafayette, IN.

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Matthew's Place

Matthew's Place

MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org