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Georgia legislators introduce a Florida-style 'Don't Say Gay' bill

Georgia is one of at least five states where legislation has been introduced to limit classroom discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation this year.
Image:  The Georgia State Capitol.
Georgia legislators introduced a bill this week that would prohibit discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in some primary school classrooms.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Georgia legislators introduced a bill this week that would prohibit discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in some private school classrooms. 

The Common Humanity in Private Education Act, which is co-sponsored by 10 Republican state senators, states that “no private or nonpublic school or program … shall 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 Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted a Republican sponsor, Burt Jones, as saying, “No teacher should be promoting gender identity discussions with small children in a classroom setting — which is exactly what this bill says and why I support it.”

While supporters of the bill say it promotes parental rights and inclusion, LGBTQ advocates argue it’s part of a nationwide effort to limit the rights of LGBTQ youths. 

“We know it’s not about parental rights,” said Jeff Graham, the executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Georgia Equality. “It really is about restricting the activities, participation and learning of children in school.”

The measure, which alleges private school educators in the state have "inappropriately discussed gender identity with children" and have increasingly embraced critical race theory, would also forbid promoting the idea that “an individual, solely by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

The bill was introduced the same day the Florida Senate passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its critics, which would limit discussions about LGBTQ issues at school. 

While Florida’s bill has garnered national attention and appears poised to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, several other states have introduced similar measures this year.

Tennessee Republicans introduced a bill in January that would ban public schools from grades K-12 from using textbooks or instructional materials that “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) lifestyles.” House Republicans advanced the legislation Tuesday. 

In Kansas, House Republicans introduced a bill last month that would change the state’s obscenity law to make it a Class B misdemeanor to teach classroom materials about “homosexuality.” The bill has been referred to the committee on K-12 education.  

The Indiana House is considering a measure introduced this year that would prohibit teachers from discussing human sexuality — including abortion, birth control, sexual orientation and “transgenderism” — with students under 18 without parental consent. The bill has been referred to the Education Committee. 

Advocates say Georgia’s bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate before the deadline of Tuesday. Georgia Equality said in an emailed statement that the measure’s “dangerously vague provisions would have a chilling effect on support for LGBTQ youth.”

“The Georgia Don’t Say Gay bill is government sanctioned censorship disguised as nondiscrimination,” the group said. It also said a third of same-sex couples living in the state are raising children and that most families in Georgia have LGBTQ family members.

“Simply talking about your family could be a violation of the provisions in this bill,” the group warned.

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