A House Republican has introduced a bill that could ban discussion and context related to sexual orientation and gender identity at the federal level.
The bill, which was introduced by Republican House Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, would “prohibit the use of Federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”
The bill, which is called the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act,” alleges that some schools have “implemented sexual education curriculums” which “encourage discussions of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology as early as kindergarten.”
It also alleges that private organizations and public libraries have purchased material that includes topics related to “masturbation, pornography, sexual acts, and gender transition,” or have used federal grants “to host and promote sexually oriented events like drag queen story hours and burlesque shows.”
The law states that if passed, parents would be able to bring legal action against any organization that uses federal funds for programs and events that “expose” sexually-oriented material to children under 10.
It defines sexually-oriented material as “any depiction, description, or simulation of human genitals, or any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.”
Although the bill’s author and proponents say that it will protect children and parental rights in education, LGBTQ+ activists have been critical of the proposed measure, comparing it to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill which Florida passed earlier this year.
“Extremist House Republicans like Mike Johnson are continuing their assault on LGBTQ+ Americans’ ability to live their lives openly and honestly,” Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement, and as reported by NPR. “A federal ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill … is their latest cruel attempt to stigmatize and marginalize the community, not in an attempt to solve actual problems but only to rile up their extremist base.”
Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic (and GO Woman We Love 2022) criticized the bill on Twitter for “Equating LGBTQ people to sexually explicit material” which, she called, “dehumanizing and disgusting.”
She continued, “Let’s call this was it is, a national, ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.”
Your bill defines “sexually oriented material” as anything that involves sexual orientation, gender identity, or related subjects. Equating LGBTQ people to sexually explicit material is dehumanizing and disgusting. Let’s call this what it is, a national “Don’t Say Gay” bill. pic.twitter.com/eQQht1HmmI
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) October 18, 2022
Rep. Johnson, the bill’s author, has called its measures “commonsense” NBC News reports.
The bill is not likely to pass in the current House, which is controlled by Democrats. Whether it would pass if Republicans regain control of the chamber in the upcoming midterm elections remains to be seen.