Republican state lawmakers are rallying behind newly introduced anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that would ‘go further’ than Florida’s reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
GOP politicians held a rally at the Pennsylvania state capitol Tuesday (20 September) to introduce House Bill 2813. The bill shares similarities with Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which bans discussions of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms between kindergarten and third grade.
Pennsylvania state representative Stephanie Borowicz, the bill’s primary sponsor, said HB 2813 is “patterned” on the Florida legislation but actually “goes further” than the other measure, according to PennLive.
The bill states that any public or charter school “may not offer instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to a student in kindergarten through fifth grade”.
It would also require schools to notify parents of “health care services offered by the school entity” to students. The legislation would also allow parents to bring civil action against schools that they believe are violating the measure.
Borowicz added she believed the bill could be extended further in the future and wanted to ban classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ topics through high school.
“It really needs to be protected up through 12th grade, we need to go all the way,” she said.
However, the bill is unlikely to pass into law as Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has already promised to veto HB 2813 and other ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills if they land on his desk.
Wolf wanted lawmakers in the state to focus on the real issues facing Pennsylvanians rather than “engaging in discrimination and bullying”, WHTM reported.
“HB 2813 is an effort to scorch individuality and normalise unacceptance,” Wolf said. “This legislation denies humanity by reinforcing homophobic ideologies.”
Sharon Ward, senior policy advisor for the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, warned this bill – like other ‘Don’t Say Gay’ measures – could “really add to the existing targeting and bullying of LGBTQ kids in schools”.
“The intent of these bills seems to be to wipe out any discussion and pretend that [LGBTQ people] don’t exist,” Ward said.
Pennsylvania lawmakers in the state Senate passed a similar bill, Senate Bill 1278, in June and currently awaits consideration in the House.
SB 1278 would also ban classroom discussions of LGBTQ+ topics for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity would also be prohibited between sixth and twelfth grade unless it is done in an “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” manner.