Georgia Republicans introduce ‘don’t say gay’ bill following passage of Florida legislation

LGBT+ advocacy group condemns ‘government sanctioned censorship disguised as nondiscrimination’

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 12 March 2022 22:54
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LGBTQ+ Florida senator makes tearful plea against 'Don't Say Gay' bill
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Republican legislators in Georgia have introduced a measure to restrict private school classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, echoing similar language in a recently passed legislation in Florida widely derided as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Under the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act”, sponsored by a group of GOP state legislators, private schools and programmes in Georgia would not be allowed to “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 joins a nationwide effort among GOP officials targeting classrooms in their 2022 campaigns – from increased surveillance of classroom discussion to legislation condemning perceived “critical race theory” curriculums – which opponents argue seeks to marginalise LGBT+ students and families and censor lessons on American history.

Opponents warn such measures are being used to strip away civil liberties, stigmatise LGBT+ Americans and centre white Americans in history lessons while drawing teachers and schools into frivolous culture-war-driven lawsuits.

Georgia LGBT+ advocacy group Georgia Equality said the latest bill “would stifle the full inclusion of LGBTQ children, and the children of LGBTQ couples in classrooms across Georgia.”

“Like so many bills introduced this legislative session, the [legislation] is government sanctioned censorship disguised as nondiscrimination,” the group said in a statement. “This bill gives the government broad censorship over honest conversations about our nation’s history and the root causes of injustice and discrimination. The vague language in this legislation opens the door to a surge in lawsuits aimed at teachers over basic classroom instruction. “

Georgia’s Senate Bill 613 also claims that a “growing number” of the state’s private schools have relied on “critical theory” used to “segregate students, staff and parents by ethnicity, color, race and national origin.”

The legislation accuses teachers and staff of “inappropriately discuss[ing] gender identity with children who have not yet reached the age of discretion,” and that “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.”

“GOP, get it through y’all’s heads that LGBTQ Georgians are not piñatas to bash in your campaign ads,” openly LGBT+ Democratic state Rep Matthew Wilson said. “Your performative cruelty won’t erase us.”

This year, Republican state legislators have proposed more than 266 bills targeting LGBT+ Americans, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Of those proposals, at least 125 directly target transgender people.

In 2021, at least 25 anti-LGBT+ measures were signed into law across the US, including 13 laws targeting transgender people in eight states, according to the organisation.

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