Two Birmingham, Ala. high school students have earned more than 78,000 signatures on their Change.org petition supporting the repeal of a state law that calls homosexuality “a criminal offense” in sex education classes.
Sixteen-year old Indian Springs School junior Sarah Noone and 17-year-old Homewood High School junior Adam Pratt started their Change.org petition after learning that Alabama State Representative Patricia Todd introduced a bill that would strike the controversial language from state law, according to the petition site. Currently, sex education teachers are required to inform students that being gay is a crime and is not “a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.”
“Think of the dangerous message this law sends to lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in schools,” said Noone, who is a youth leader of the Birmingham Alliance of Gay, Straight and Lesbian Youth (BAGSLY). “Can you imagine the self-hatred you would feel inside after hearing a teacher say that being gay is a criminal act and that society will never accept you? All students deserve to feel safe and welcome in school, but this law prevents that.” Noone and Pratt recorded a video to promote their petition and urge supporters to fight bullying.
Homosexuality is not, in fact, a crime in Alabama or any other state. In the 2004 Lawrence v. Texas case, the Supreme Court ruled that laws against sodomy were unconstitutional.
New signatures on the petition are sent via email to state legislative leadership, including the Alabama Education Policy Committee, where Rep. Patricia Todd’s bill currently sits. Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, who chairs the Education Policy Committee, has yet to comment on the campaign.
“It’s tough enough being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender student in Alabama, especially when our school curriculums provide students with a blueprint for bullying,” said Pratt. “More than 40 percent of the state’s homeless youth are LGBT, and suicide rates, especially among LGBT teens, are horrific.”