Vermont conservatives propose bill to ban “gay agenda” in schools

A group of conservative legislators in Vermont proposed a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal to “encourage, promote, or sanction homosexual or bisexual conduct” in schools. The lawmakers say the bill is necessary in light of the state’s passage of a law last year granting gay and lesbian couples legal recognition. “I think the civil unions issue brought to the forefront that the homosexual agenda is very strongly being brought into the school systems of Vermont,’’ said Rep. Nancy Sheltra, a Republican who is lead sponsor of the bill. Rep. William Lippert, a gay Democrat, countered, “That bill is built on the premise that somehow the fact that gay and lesbian people are positive, contributing members of society will somehow be a threat to the children of Vermont. It’s completely unfounded and perpetuates a stereotype and prejudice that does more damage to the children of Vermont than having them know the positive contributions of the gay and lesbian people of Vermont, including in the schools.” The future of Sheltra’s proposal is unclear. Rep. Howard Crawford, the Republican chairman of the education committee, which would hold hearings on the bill, said he is reluctant to have the state determine what local curricula can cover. In addition to Sheltra’s bill, another Republican lawmaker, Rep. George Schiavone, introduced a bill Tuesday that would strictly define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman and ban recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

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