Vile 'don't say gay' bill has high-profile sponsors
The Kansas City Star
I do not know Missouri Rep. Steve Cookson, from southeast Missouri, but he has been a teacher, principal and also the superintendent of the Naylor School District in Ripley County from 2001 to 2010.
The Naylor School District has 414 students, and 163 of them attend the high school, which includes grades 7 through 12. And, although Cookson has been departed for two years, it’s a pretty good bet that the school doesn’t have a flourishing gay-straight alliance group.
Cookson wants to make that the case in all of Missouri’s public schools. He’s the lead sponsor of House Bill 2051, which directs that “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.”
This piece of work has aptly been dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill. It is vile legislation, intended to deny gay and lesbian students an opportunity to find a supportive haven at school. If there can be no discussion of sexual orientation, there can be no discussion of tolerance toward those whose sexual orientation is different from one’s own. If there can be no acknowledgement of sexual differences, there can be no ban against bullying based on those differences.
It’s bad enough that a retired educator has sponsored this abomination of a bill. But the list of co-sponsors is truly disheartening. There are 19 besides Cookson, all Republicans, and prominent on the list is House Speaker Steve Tilley. Tim Jones, the House Majority Leader, has also signed on.
The only legislator from the Kansas City area to co-sponsor the bill is Jeff Grisamore of Lee’s Summit. On his official state bio, Grisamore volunteers that he is “a humanitarian leader that (sic) engages in care for orphans, widows and the poor.” As long as they’re not gay, I guess. Humanitarianism has its limits.
The Missouri House has taken up a lot of ridiculous legislation this session. It has passed bills making gun owners a protected class, outlawed the use of Islamic law in the state, and guaranteeing the freedom of Missourians to participate in rodeos. But House Bill 2051 crosses the line from stupid to reprehensible. Now you have the leaders of the Missouri House of Representatives actively promoting a measure intended to discriminate against a group of kids. Truly shameful.
Update: Rep. Jay Swearingen, a Democrat from Kansas City, North, is reporting on his Facebook page that the chair of the House Education Committee is promising to bury the ‘don’t say gay’ bill. Great news, if true. But the participation of the two top House leaders is still a problem.