Scroll To Top

U.S. Congressman Introduces Bill to Censor LGBTQ+ Content in Schools

Jefferson Van Drew
Congressman Jefferson Van Drew

A Republican lawmaker wants parental consent for lessons that deal with sexual orientation or gender identity -- and could let parents quash them altogether.

The movement to censor school content about LGBTQ+ identities has come to Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a Republican from New Jersey, Tuesday introduced what he calls the My Child, My Choice Act, which would make elementary schools obtain parental consent for children to participate in "lessons specifically related to gender identity, sexual orientation, or transgender studies," as the bill's text says.

Any student whose parents objected would have to be assigned to a study hall while the lesson was going on. If there is not written consent from at least 50 percent of parents, the lesson could not be taught. Federal funds would be withheld from schools that do not cooperate. Many states have considered legislation restricting LGBTQ-inclusive content in schools, like Florida's now-passed "don't say gay" law, or at least allowing parents to censor it or opt their children out of it.

Last month, in announcing his intention to introduce the bill, Van Drew said it was in response to his state's plan to require teaching about gender identity as early as second grade and its recommendation that students have access to restrooms and changing rooms consistent with their gender identity.

"Instead of teaching our second graders about math, science, and reading, Governor [Phil] Murphy and the state of New Jersey are threatening the safety and security of our school children," Van Drew said in a press release at the time. "While every child should go to school and feel accepted and comfortable, we should not be compromising the safety of our young children by allowing restrooms and changing rooms be available to any child regardless of their actual gender. ... As legislators, our job is to protect our constituents and the American people; New Jersey is doing just the opposite. These children are young. They are concerned with improving their reading and writing. Not learning about gender identity and sexual orientation."

Van Drew also mentioned a case of sexual assault in a school restroom in Loudoun County, Va., last year, in which a boy wearing a skirt attacked a girl. However, many on the far right have mischaracterized this as a result of the school's trans-inclusive restroom policy. Loudoun County schools did not put the policy in place until August, two months after the assault, and the boy, while identifying as gender-fluid, did not choose the girls' restroom because of his gender identity. He and the girl had met for sexual activity in the restroom previously, but on this occasion she turned him down and he assaulted her, according to several national media reports. He was not someone "identifying as transgender and going into the girls' bathroom under the guise of that," Loudoun County prosecutor Buta Biberaj told The New York Times.

Van Drew is likewise mischaracterizing New Jersey's policies, Democratic politicians in the state said. "There is generic language on identifying gender roles and treating all kids, regardless of their gender, with respect," state Sen. Vin Gopal, a Democrat who chairs his chamber's education committee, said at the time, according to "Anything that is more specific than that is coming from a specific Board of Education locally." He has since introduced legislation aimed at assuring parents are informed about health and sex education lessons and have the opportunity to opt their children out.

Van Drew's bill has little chance of advancing in the Democratic-majority U.S. House. Republicans in the chamber are also trying to push a vote on a bill that takes another state-level issue national -- barring trans girls and women from competing on female sports teams. While more than 60 Republican representatives have petitioned for a vote on the sports legislation, which was introduced more than a year ago, "Democrats are all but certain to keep the bill from moving forward," Politico reports.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories