By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com May 02 2012 1:45 PM ET
With Missouri lawmakers considering their own version of the "Don't Say Gay" bill, one House Republican has come out against the bill — and come out as a gay man.
"I am not the first or last Republican to come out," said Rep. Zach Wyatt in the announcement posted on YouTube. "I have just gotten tired of the bigotry being shown from both sides of the aisle on gay issues."
Wyatt disclosed that he had been a victim of school bullying, and he worries for the safety of school children who are now being bullied.
“Students need to feel safe when they go to school and be able to speak to teachers, counselors, and administrators when they are getting bullied," he said. "This bill will make that illegal."
In Missouri, HB 2051 would ensure "no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school." One of the bill's sponsors has claimed it doesn't single out homosexuality and instead bans discussion of "any sexual orientation."
A number of school teachers have voiced opposition to the bill in local newspapers, saying it would limit discussion in the classroom in curriculum around sociology, cultural studies and literature.
In Tennessee, where this idea was born, it looks like it will yet again run out of time to pass before the legislative session ends. The bill's sponsor there said this weekend, according to Knox News, that the bill wouldn't get a vote before lawmakers adjourn.
Wyatt said he experienced a personal kind of "Don't Say Gay" policy that ended with his announcement, and his call for other representatives to withdraw their support for the bill.
"I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality," he said. "It has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it, didn’t even think about it, or want to talk about it. I have not been immune to it. I hear the comments, usually snide ones about me."
Watch his coming-out announcement in the video below.