The Louisiana House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to revive a bill that would ban “topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in any kindergarten through eighth grade classroom discussion or instruction.”
The legislation, which critics have dubbed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was killed last week in a 7-4 bipartisan House Education Committee vote.
But on Tuesday, Republican Rep. Raymond Crews used a rare legislative procedural tool, the “Committee of the Whole,” which allowed a full House vote to advance or defeat the education committee’s decision. The House then voted 55-39 to resurrect the measure.
Democrats objected to Crews’ use of the procedural tool.
“It would be unprecedented to use the Committee of the Whole for this purpose,” Rep. Sam Jenkins, who is the chairman of the state’s House Democratic Caucus, said on the House floor. “If that’s the case, then every bill that fails in committee could go to the prosecution.”
Crews did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Officially titled the Parental Rights in Education Act, the country’s first so-called “don’t say gay” bill originated in Florida earlier this year and was signed into law in March. The measure prohibits the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity “from kindergarten to grade 3 or in a way that is not appropriate for the age or development of students in accordance with the standards of the state”. It will come into force on July 1.
Supporters of the Florida measure have claimed it gives parents more discretion over what their children learn in school and say LGBTQ issues are not age-appropriate for young students.
But critics have argued that the law could prevent teachers and students from speaking out about their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities or family members.
Louisiana’s measure goes further than Florida’s law: It also prohibits public school employees from discussing their “own sexual orientation or gender identity with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.”
Beyond Louisiana and Florida, 18 other states have introduced similar legislation that would ban educators from talking or teaching about LGBTQ issues in school this year, according to the Movement Advancement Project, or MAP, a group think tank that follows the bills.
LGBTQ advocates have condemned the Louisiana state bill and Crews’ motion to invoke committee of the whole procedure.
“Louisiana politicians not only blatantly ignore the dangerous repercussions of anti-LGBTQ+ bills like this, but they are prepared to quash lawsuits and overturn their committee’s decisions,” said Human Rights. Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, in a statement. .
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