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Louisiana lawmakers reject ‘Don’t say gay’ bill

Measure opposed by state groups, Governor

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Louisiana State Capitol building. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A sweeping bill that would bar school employees from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in K-12 classrooms in the state was killed in the Louisiana House Education Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 837, introduced by state Representative Dodie Horton, (R-District 9-Bossier) would enact a law that: 

  • No teacher, school employee, or other presenter shall cover the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in any classroom discussion or instruction in kindergarten through grade eight.
  • No teacher, school employee, or other presenter shall discuss his own sexual orientation or gender identity with students in kindergarten through grade twelve.

Horton, speaking with ABC News’ Baton Rouge affiliate WBRZ-2, at the time she introduced the legislation told the station; “I wasn’t aware of the need [for this legislation] until I looked at some things on Twitter and Facebook,” Horton told WBRZ Thursday. “It just solidified for us to protect our Louisiana children, as well.”

“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 explained. “I talked to my pastor and he challenged me and said, ‘we definitely need to do this.’”

This legislation follows passage of a similar bill in Florida and efforts in Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia and 16 other states in at least 40 bills have been introduced to ban classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ people which opponents charge leads to erasure of LGBTQ+ identity and increased risks of suicide by LGBTQ+ youth.

Passage was opposed by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups as well as Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards whose office had released a statement:

“Some of the bills being brought up this session do nothing to make lives better. Nothing to continue moving us forward. They only serve to divide us. And frankly, some are reminiscent of a dark past that we should learn from, not relive.”

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