Legislators in West Virginia have introduced a bill that, if passed, would “prohibit persons from putting up displays relating to sexuality in public school facilities and shall forbid the teaching of sexuality in public schools.” State house delegate Dean Jeffries, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement to West Virginia’s 13 News that his constituents find the issue important, specifically with regards to displays supporting sexuality within district’s schools.
Critics of the bill believe that it unfairly targets LGBTQ+ students in a state where they are already vulnerable to increased marginalization. Additionally, they allege that the shortness of the bill, along with its vague language, would leave it open to further interpretation that could limit the teaching of sexual and reproductive health in schools.
“House Bill 2157 is a bad bill that will harm all of our students,” said Fairness West Virginia, a local advocacy group, in a statement posted on Facebook. “It was designed to silence teachers from showing any support to their LGBTQ students, but it’s written so broadly that it would likely also prevent health teachers from talking about teen pregnancy or ways to prevent the spread of STDs.”
The bill is currently one of a few in the state legislature which targets the LGBTQ+. Senate Bill 341, which would prevent trans students from participating in sports based on their gender identity, is currently pending in the Senate Education Committee. Senate Bill 13, as reported by them, and which is currently pending in the State Health and Human Resources Committee, would allow adoption and foster care agencies “to refuse placement to same-sex couples in the name of their religious beliefs.”