House Republicans have introduced legislation that some critics are describing as a national “Don’t Say Gay” bill – inspired by the controversial Florida law that bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade classes.
If the federal bill were to become law, which is unlikely in the current Congress,its effects could be far more sweeping, affecting not just instruction in schools, but also events and literature at any federally-funded institution.
The bill, called the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act,” aims “To prohibit the use of Federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”
The language in the proposed legislation lumps together topics of sexual orientation and gender identity, with sexual content such as pornography and stripping.
It would prohibit federal funds from being used to support any “sexually-oriented” programs, events, and literature; ban federal facilities from hosting or promoting such events or literature; and allow parents and guardians to sue government officials, agencies and private entities if a child under 10 is “exposed” to such materials.
The bill complains that some school districts have implemented sex ed programming for kids under 10, and that “[m]any newly implemented sexual education curriculums encourage discussion of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology as early as kindergarten.” It also calls out events such as drag queen story hours in libraries, which it describes as “sexually-oriented.”
The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the rights of LGBTQ people, decried the proposed legislation.
“Extremist House Republicans like Mike Johnson are continuing their assault on LGBTQ+ Americans’ ability to live their lives openly and honestly. A federal ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill … is their latest cruel attempt to stigmatize and marginalize the community, not in an attempt to solve actual problems but only to rile up their extremist base,” Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement.
Activist Erin Reed, who tracks anti-transgender legislation, argues that the comparison to a “Don’t Say Gay” bill minimizes the potential effects of this proposed legislation.
“Don’t Say Gay/Trans was focused on ‘classroom instruction’ which was bad enough,” she wrote on Twitter. “This goes WAY beyond the classroom, and WAY beyond ‘instruction.’ ”