The Louisiana House made a rare procedural move on Tuesday that revived the state’s version of a “don’t say gay” bill that would prohibit public school teachers from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in class.
The bill had been rejected last week by the state’s House education committee by a bipartisan vote of 7-4. It had been thought to have died for this legislative session, according to local public radio station WWNO.
However, Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews put forth a motion that advanced the bill through a procedure called “Committee of the Whole,” allowing the House to vote to override the committee. It passed 55-39.
The bill can be viewed here.
Any legislation must go through committee approval, according to the state’s constitution. This means that the House will now hold a committee hearing itself. WWNO reports that lawmakers will be able to call outside individuals to testify.
State Rep. Sam Jenkins, a Democrat, blasted the move by Crews.
“It would be unprecedented to use the committee of the whole for this purpose,” said Jenkins, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, according to the outlet. “If that’s the case, then every bill that fails in a committee could be brought to the floor. For that reason, I would object to this bill being discharged.
Those in favor of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill said it was to protect children.
“In certain cases when you break precedent is when you have important bills like this that you can bring this motion,” said Rep. Blake Miguez, a Republican. “It’s perfectly within the rules.”
The bill, written by Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton, is more extreme than the one Florida passed into law. It would ban classroom instruction or discussion regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through eighth grade. It would also bar any school employee or other presenter from revealing their own sexual orientation or gender identity to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
LGBTQ+ advocates in the state have condemned reviving the bill.
“Anti-LGBTQ+ politicians are pulling out all the stops in their attempt to censor and control students and teachers,” Sarah Jane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality, said in a statement. “Moving this bill forward at the expense of LGBTQ+ students’ well-being is a shameful political trick. It’s time for our elected officials to halt this bill once and for all and return their focus to the real issues facing families in our state, like quality health care and economic programs.”
Peyton Michelle, secretary on the board of directors of LA Trans Advocates, said in a news release that she was proud of those who have already spoken out against the legislation. She added that politicians were ignoring the rights of young LGBTQ+ individuals by supporting the bill.
“All children, including transgender children, deserve to be supported and respected in school,” Michelle said. “Positive representation of LGBTQ+ people and issues in school is a critical part of creating an inclusive environment that protects LGBTQ+ kids’ safety and well-being. This bill would also deny all students — not only LGBTQ+ students — the opportunity to learn accurate history and important lessons about the diverse world around them.”