House Bill 1557 (The “Don’t Say Gay” bill)

This thread is to discuss the Parental Rights in Education bill. Before you continue, please read the bill in its entirety, and please remain civil.

Moved to #serious-discussion:politics.

What I took away from the text itself:

  1. It makes it so that schools can’t go or encourage kids to go behind parents’ backs in matters that involve the child’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being, unless “a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect”.

  2. It prevents instruction of kids in kindergarten through third grade (around 6-8 years old, when kids are impressionable and before puberty has begun) on sexual orientation and gender identity (this includes straight and cisgender) in a way deemed age- or developmentally inappropriate by state standards (determined by voters).

  3. It gives parents recourse for schools to address their concerns in a timely manner, or at least tell them why they couldn’t resolve their concerns. If the school can’t resolve the concerns, parents can appeal (the school does not pay the parent’s court costs if the parent loses the case - not much incentive to sue if you don’t believe that a school staff member isn’t violating the law by inappropriately instructing children in gender identity or sexual orientation).

The bill does not prevent children from learning about sexual orientation and gender identity outside of the classroom. It does not prevent them from discussing these things with each other. It doesn’t prevent them from talking to school staff about them, so long as they don’t keep it from the parents (so far as they believe it wouldn’t cause abuse or neglect of the child).

Again, I would support the right of LGBT+ teachers to teach about gender identity and sexual orientation as they relate to kids’ futures if Christian teachers had the right to teach about Jesus and how His atonement relates to kids’ futures.

They’re both controversial (but important) topics that not everyone agrees on, yet will greatly influence children’s lives if taught; but they also overlap and conflict in some cases. It’s not really fair or prudent for one to be allowed or even taught in the curriculum while the other is not.

However, I feel like that would create a war over which teachers parents want to teach their kids, as well as cause even more confusion for the kids when teachers contradict each other - no man can serve two masters.

And let’s remember here, this bill does not apply to kids from 4th grade on - if they want to explore themselves at that point, they may. Puberty typically doesn’t start for girls until around that time anyway (the average age is just over 12 years old, which would put them in 7th grade) - puberty starts even later for boys.

1.) This is very, very dangerous because it’s impossible to truly tell if there would be abuse, abandonment or neglect. LGBT+ children are disproportionately the victims of abuse and disownment when their parents find out about them. If a person, child or otherwise, shares their orientation or gender identity in someone they trust, it’s a horrible violation to out them without their permission. A law that mandates school counselors to out their children behind their back to their parents is absolutely terrible. What possible value could there be to a counselor going behind a child’s back to tell their parents they’re LGBT+?

2.) Both parts of this are inappropriate. One, why does it need to be illegal for children to learn about mommies and daddies? Straight couples exist, and so do gay couples. Schools are supposed to teach about the world, not pretend it doesn’t exist. Two, the second part is deliberately super-vague. The law has absolutely no standard as to what’s “age-appropriate.” It does not offer any means to share how those standards are decided. It does not let voters vote on it, it just doesn’t prevent voters from voting on it, eventually, if politicians decide to put it up to a vote. Second, why should voters decide when it’s okay for minorities to be discussed in school? What other parts of curriculum are up for referendum?

3.) It allows schools to sue schools, at those schools’ expense, if they feel this is violated. This, combined with the vague wording of “age-appropriate,” essentially will make any educator or counselor have to walk on eggshells lest mentioning LGBT+ people in any form makes them want to sue the schools. Will the lawsuit about assigning a book with a gay character to a high schooler win? Hopefully not, but this law makes teachers have to gamble every time they so much as acknowledge LGBT+ people exist.

Who should children learn about sexual orientation from? Porn? Locker room talk? Because parents who want it to be a law that they can’t learn something in schools certainly aren’t going to be teaching it either. And if they do, it will probably be in the same way I learned it: “You are heterosexual, and people who are not go to Hell.”

It does, though. It applies to students before 4th grade or students after 4th grade in a way that’s not “age-appropriate” (again, with no actual guidance as to what’s “age-appropriate”).

I can 100% guarantee you learned about heterosexuality and cisgenderism before puberty. Why should that be illegal? And why should children start puberty without having ever learned about orientation?

But all of this I think is obfuscating the central point: Why does this even need to be a law in the first place? What existing harm exists that this is supposed to protect from?

My other question is this, and I want an honest answer: Why is my family inappropriate for children to know about? What age is appropriate for children to learn about my family’s existence? What places are appropriate for children to learn about my family’s existence?

Your points are taken.

  1. It’s really saddening that our society has strayed so far from Christ’s message of love and reconciliation. I wish more people would follow Christ’s teachings - then there wouldn’t be abuse, abandonment, or neglect. On this first matter, I feel like counselors would err on the side of caution; if they have reason to believe that the parents will behave badly towards the child, the law protects them from outing the kid to their parents. I’d like to believe the intention is to help parents and children to work through their feelings together early on, rather than having to “come out of the closet” to their parents later, which can sow seeds of distrust and hurt.

  2. I’m not sure I was ever taught about mommies and daddies before sex ed in high school, save at home. I feel like there are some things in a child’s education that should remain the parents’ responsibility. I find it unfortunate that society has shifted so much - perhaps because of the necessities of the times, or perhaps because of “first world problems” - that raising children has become secondary to earning money and attaining things.
    You’re right about the wording about “age appropriate” not specifying if it only applies to kindergarten through third grade; that’s a sneaky loophole, and I would fight to make that less vague.

  3. Again, I refer to religion as to how this should be handled. A teacher can mention religion, even talk about the history of it, but they can’t teach about how they feel the Holy Spirit or instruct kid in how they can improve their quality of life by accepting Christ as their savior and following Him; even if you and I know it’s true, it’s up to the parents to teach them. In the same way, sexual orientation and gender identity is a deeply personal thing that I wish parents would talk more about with their kids, with a spirit of love.

  4. The reason it was made into a law is there are some activist teachers (a minority of LGBT+ teachers, I would hope) who have posted examples of what they teach their kids online, and these people are sometimes… belligerent and unstable - I think that the bill was an overreaction to these teachers, as well as parents being fed up with the actions of teachers unions and school boards over the course of the pandemic.

To answer your final question, your family isn’t inappropriate for children to know about, but I would like to be the one to introduce you to them, because I consider you a friend; I would find it awkward if a person I barely knew introduced anyone to my kid without my knowledge or consent (other than in passing). If my kids asked why you and Tom kissed, I would simply tell them that it’s your way, and that God gave everyone free will to do with their life what they like. I feel like it wouldn’t need to be explained more than that at that age.

When they’re a little older, or if they ask about it further, I’ll tell them that some people are attracted to people of the same sex, and that they can’t help it, but that that in of itself isn’t bad. I will also encourage them to be kind to everyone - kids can be shockingly good at that.

If my children grow up to be gay or trans, I will still love and support them - I myself am more attracted to men than women, so I know a bit how it feels; I’ve chosen to remain celibate until I either find a woman I’ll love for all eternity or the afterlife, whichever comes first. That’s my choice, not theirs.

All I can do is hope that (God willing I do find the woman I’m meant to marry in this life and have kids), I will be able to teach my kids to love others and be good examples of Christ-like people because they want to be, not because they feel pressured to be.

Why is it the government’s business when children come out? All that’s going to do is give scared and ashamed children nowhere to turn to except strangers on the internet, many of whom have very bad intentions for them. I can tell you, as a matter of fact as someone who went through it, your non-affirming family is not the safest first place to come out.

I’m not talking about heterosexual sex, I’m talking about mommies and daddies. You were taught about them. They’re all over children’s books. Mama Bear and Papa Bear. That kind of thing. Keep in mind this law is not about sex, it’s about orientation and gender identity. In fact, there was an attempt to amend it to specifically refer to sexual education and it was shot down; the current wording is absolutely deliberate. Nobody is teaching 1st graders about sex. The goal of this is to keep them from learning LGBT+ people exist in school at all.

You mention how a teacher can mention religion and talk about the history of it. But this law bans teachers mentioning LGBT+ people or talk about our history. The goal is to erase us, not to protect children.

Could you provide a source for this? What is being taught, exactly?

I mean more broadly, specifically. People are debating why families like mine are acceptable subject matter in school, but not other families. Why is my family something children need to be shielded from?

With all of this in mind, this law solves zero problems and creates quite a few.