Rep. Steve Cookson defends 'don't say gay' legislation
The Kansas City Star
Missouri Rep. Steve Cookson has given a long interview to SEMO Times, an alternative newsweekly in Poplar Bluff, about his infamous “don’t say gay” bill. (One of the things Cookson reveals is that he prefers to call it the ‘More Textbooks, Less Sex Books’ legislation. Huh?)
You can find the first part of the interview with managing editor Tim Krakowiak here.
Cookson is the sponsor of House Bill 2051, which “prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction.” That means teachers would be prohibited from promoting tolerance toward gay and lesbian students, and gay-straight student alliance groups could not meet during the school day. It’s bad legislation that, if not designed to encourage bullying, certainly does nothing to discourage it.
A couple of highlights from the interview:
Krakowiak: How are our tax dollars being spent, as you said, to promote political agendas of a sexual nature? How is this happening in schools?
Cookson: In the state of Missouri?
Cookson: OK. Evidently, they say there are 80 school sponsored gay-straight alliances. There are 80 of those that are school sponsored—is the way I understand it—across the state. So those are some tax dollars. There are, I have heard, maybe a handful of schools that have curriculums that include sexual orientation such as things like, you know, it’s alright to have two moms. It’s alright for children to have two dads.
I’m not against people that want to have that lifestyle. I just don’t know if we want… the one thing that is for sure is that these people that live these other lifestyles, they are not reproducing. They are not reproducing. And I think that there are some people that believe—and I want to say some people… it has been brought to my attention that they believe that they are using this, since they can’t reproduce, to recruit people into that lifestyle.
Speaking about media coverage about his bill, Cookson said:
…I still cannot fully understand why they would be so upset, and I know that they have made a big issue about the location—where I am from and where I represent, and the size of schools here, and what our schools are, in a demeaning manner, in the Kansas City paper especially. But I would just like to point out to them that the school district I represented as a superintendent always scored a 14 or 13 on their annual performance report year after year, whenever those school districts that those newspapers represent are struggling and failing, and not providing the proper education or skills for those students.
(Here, I think he’s talking about my blog post, which notes that Cookson is the retired superintendent of the Naylor School District in Ripley County, Mo., which has an enrollment of 414 students. I used that information to provide context, not to be demeaning. Sorry he interpreted it that way. And I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the academic performance of the Kansas City Public Schools.)
Anyway, I’m guessing Missouri legislative leaders were anxious to have the controversy over Cookson’s bill die down, and aren’t turning cartwheels over this interview. No such luck for them; SEMO Times promises a second installment of the interview tomorrow.