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‘Don’t Say Gay’ Legislation Filed in Georgia General Assembly

State Sen. Carden Summers

The legislation targets LGBTQ+ topics as well as "critical race theory." 

The same day the Florida Legislature passed its controversial "don't say gay" bill, similar legislation was filed in the Georgia State Assembly.

A bill (SB 613) filed by Georgia state Sen. Carden Summers tackles both the teaching of "critical race theory" and the treatment of LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom.

In a single bill, the legislation places restrictions on a wide variety of topics that Republican lawmakers have targeted in legislatures across the country.

Regarding LGBTQ+ issues, the bill suggests educators have "inappropriately discussed gender identity with children who have not yet reached the age of discretion."

"Such a focus on racial and gender identity and its resulting discrimination on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, and national origin is destructive to the fabric of American society," the bill reads.

Should the bill pass, it would restrict how such topics can be addressed by teachers.

"No private or nonpublic school or program to which this chapter applies shall promote, compel, or encourage classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age and developmental stage of the student," the bill states.

That's the language that appeared in early drafts of Florida's "don't say gay" bill. Before the legislature passed the bill and sent it to Gov. Ron DeSantis's desk, the language was changed to apply only to "instruction," not "discussion." It also replaced the vague ban on the material in "primary grade levels" to explicitly say kindergarten through third grade but retained the continued restriction on subjects in all grade levels to occur in an "age-appropriate way."

Of note, the Georgia legislation aims to regulate curriculum in private institutions. Called the Common Humanity in Private Education Act, the bill, if passed, would apply to "all private or nonpublic schools or programs that receive state or federal funding," and any schools or programs participating in Georgia's Special Needs Scholarship Program or in any athletic associations with public schools.

Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis told The Advocate that language wraps up private and public schools, regardless of the name of the bill. He sees the language as part of a national effort by conservative Republicans to rile the base.

"Just as was the case with recent anti-trans actions in Texas, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a measure designed to rally the GOP's base in the lead-up to the primaries in a few weeks and again for the general election in November," he said.

Georgia's primaries take place May 24.

In addition to issues of sexual orientation and gender, the Georgia bill gets into the subject of critical race theory.

"A growing number of Georgia's private and nonpublic schools have embraced curricula and programs based in critical theory," the bill reads. "In practice, these developments have caused private schools to segregate students, staff, and parents by ethnicity, color, race, and national origin; to compel students to adopt language and attitudes that promote racial division and discrimination; and to promote the concept that there is a hierarchy of oppressor and oppressed and that one's race, gender, sexual orientation, color, or national origin irrevocably determines his or her place in that hierarchy."

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