Friday, June 21, 2024

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced two bills limiting the discussion of gender issues or the use of alternate names or pronouns in schools

by BPT Staff
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By Elizabeth White
LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced two bills limiting
the discussion of gender issues or the use of alternate names or pronouns in schools.

Both bills passed the committee unanimously with no objection from the only Democrat present,
Sen. Katrina Jackson-Andrews of Monroe House Bill 121, sponsored by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, would prevent teachers from calling a student by a name or pronouns that do not match their birth certificate. Parents
would be able to give written consent for their child to be called by a different name.

However, teachers would be able to refuse to call the student by a different name due to religious
beliefs. In that case students could be moved to a different classroom.

“It really tries to put these social issues to the side between the parent and the child and not
involve the teacher in this,” Crews said.

Critics of the bill, including teachers and advocates, stated that this measure is unnecessary and
singles out an already vulnerable group of students. They also voiced concerns about schools not
being big enough for a child to change classes if a teacher opts out.

“I understand that the bill has measures in place for parental permission, but it’s a very harmful
situation when a parent doesn’t support their trans student,” Peyton Rose Michelle, the executive
director for Louisiana Trans Advocates said. “It is the top reason for suicide in our community.”

House Bill 122, sponsored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, would prohibit teachers from
discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in K-12 public schools.

This would include teachers discussing their own sexual orientation and facilitating discussions
pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity during classroom instructional time unless
such topics pertain to the curriculum.

“This bill will provide our public-school systems with firm guidance and clarity in instructing
teachers to stick to the curriculum,” Horton said. “It will give our parents the confidence they
need when they drop their children off at school. They won’t have to worry about inappropriate
conversation happening in the classroom.”

The bill states that these topics would also be prohibited from being discussed in extracurricular
activities, which raised concerns for many opponents.

Opponents also called the bill unnecessary and vague. They expressed concern that it would be
harmful to student-teacher relationships and classroom discussion.

“In my opinion it’s purposely vague to create a chilling effect in the classroom in which the
teacher is uncertain of what is and is not acceptable,” Jacob Newsome, a public-school teacher,
said.

The bills have already passed the House and will next go to the Senate floor.

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