Missouri Legislature Advances Anti-Gay Bill
Earlier this week a Missouri bill advanced to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. The controversial measure would ban discussing topics about the LGBT community and prohibit teachers from addressing anti-gay bullying, the St. Louis LGBT newspaper the Vital Voice, a political website, reported.
The blunt House Bill 2051 says, "Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school."
The measure is co-sponsored by several members of Missouri’s House Majority leadership, including Speaker-elect Tim Jones and Speaker Steven Tilley.
The article says that the bill is "a flagrant violation of the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech." The article also points out that Gay-Straight Alliances could also be banned on school grounds if the measure becomes law.
The bill is similar to a Tennessee measure that has been dubbed the "Don’t Say Gay" Bill. In February the state’s house subcommittee gave the green light to the measure, which would prohibit public school teachers from mentioning homosexuality and LGBT issues in the classroom until students reach the ninth grade.
Care2.com recently reported that the controversial bill is moving forward from a House Education committee by a 8-7 vote after laying dormant for months.
Missouri does not recognize marriage equality. In 2004, voters ratified Amendment 2, which defines marriage in Missouri to the union of one man and one woman. A Public Policy Polling survey from 2011 found that only 32 percent of Missouri voters supported same-sex marriage, while 59 percent were against it and nine percent were unsure. But the poll also reported that 62 percent of people surveyed said they agree with legal recognition of same-sex couples, while just 28 percent did not.
There are no anti-discrimination laws that address sexual orientation or gender identity, however, the state’s hate crime laws protect members of the LGBT community.