Legislature advances ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill to House

Maggie Eubanks, News Editor

The Louisiana Legislature moved one step closer to adopting its own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill on Wednesday. House Bill 466 narrowly made its way out of committee by a 7-5 vote, and the House Chamber will begin debate on the bill this session.

If passed, the bill would mirror many of the statutes that already exist in Florida. For example, teachers in K-12 schools would be barred from any discussion on topics relating to gender identity and the LGBTQ+ community. According to AP News, the bill would also allow school officials to override parental permission saying that a student can be called by their preferred pronouns.

Opponents of the bill spoke for three hours at Wednesday’s committee hearing. Maxwell Cohen, a transgender man, told lawmakers that the bill did not protect children but instead harmed them because it forced kids to hide their idenities. 

“This piece of legislation tells queer kids that they must hide, that they don’t matter and that they are wrong,” Cohen said. “But we know that’s far from the truth. We must protect queer kids and acknowledge them for who they are because they exist, they are special and they matter.”

The author of the bill, Rep. Raymond Crews, disagreed with Cohen and said the bill was aimed at protecting all students in schools from topics that were inappropriate to discuss. 

“This legislation is strictly based on the child,” Horton said. “Our children go to school to learn, to be taught, not to be indoctrinated or confused by anyone else’s ideology.”

A similar bill also passed out of committee Wednesday would bar teachers from using students’ preferred names or pronouns. According to this bill, teachers can only call students by the name and pronouns associated with their birth certificates. 

Some representatives are aiming to pass both of these bills through the House and Senate Chambers before the start of the next school year. With both chambers being led by Republicans, passing these bills might not be a difficult task, according to The Advocate. 

These bills come as a part of a new trend among Republican-led states after Florida passed the original version of the bill last year. According to the NPR, 16 states have filed similar bills with three other states already passing “Don’t Say Gay” laws.