Teachers Forced To Tell Parents If Their Kids Are Gay? 5 Utterly Horrifying Right-Wing State Bills
1. Tennessee bill would prohibit discussion of "non-heterosexual" sexuality in schools and force teachers to warn parents if their kids identify as LGBT.
SB 234, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, bars elementary and middle-school teachers from discussing “non-heterosexual” sexuality with their students. Even more shocking, a new version of the bill would require counselors and teachers to warn parents if they think their child is gay.
By way of justification the bill’s sponsor, Republican senator Stacey Campbell, said, “The act of homosexuality is very dangerous to someone's health and safety."
Campbell’s hateful bill is the real threat to health and safety. As Think Progress’ Annie-Rose Strasser notes, “Kids who are LGBT often face alienation, if not outright abandonment, because they come out. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBT, and many of them report that the reason they left home was to escape an environment hostile to their sexual orientation.”
It seems that this is the strategy of cultural conservatives: restrict open discussion that could pave the way for a more tolerant generation, and harm children while doing so.
2. Missouri bill would require first-graders to study gun safety with the NRA.
A Missouri Republican is sponsoring a bill that would require all first-grade students to endure something called the “National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program.”
The program would send instructors to every public school in Missouri to teach first-graders what to do if they encounter an unsecured firearm. Also, the bill would require all teachers to attend eight hours of intruder response classes. But the NRA won’t pay for substitute teachers during training time, which is projected to cost school districts $16 million.
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis believes that money would be better allocated toward math and science tutoring programs. Nasheed seems to be on the right track, considering that Missouri’s public education system ranks 47th in the nation. "I think we should be teaching kids to read, write and do math," she told the Associated Press.
3. Arkansas bill would ban abortions as early as five weeks into pregnancy.
In a blow to women’s rights, the Arkansas state senate approved a bill that would ban abortions when doctors detect a fetal heartbeat. If passed by the House into law, women would be denied abortions as early as five weeks into pregnancy. Arkansas would become the most anti-choice state in the country.
Not only do Arkansas lawmakers want to strip away a woman’s right to choose—they also want to invade women's privacy in the process. The bill, sponsored by the openly racist Republican state senator Jason Rapert, would require doctors administer vaginal probes to detect whether women pass the cut-off of fetal heartbeat.
It gets worse: doctors who perform abortions after the cut-off would face up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Essentially, the bill would jail doctors who adhere to 40 years of federal law.
In a speech to her colleagues, Democratic state senator Linda Chesterfield captured the cruelty of the proposed legislation: "I don't want to go back to when women used kerosene and clotheshangers because they didn't have a choice.”
4. Mississippi bill aims to exempt state from certain federal laws.
In response to Obama’s Affordable Care Act and gun control proposals, Republican state representatives Gary Chism and Jeff Smith introduced a bill aiming to neutralize federal laws conservatives disagree with.
Chism says his bill will “stand up for the 10th Amendment.” But Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey points out the stupidity of his assessment—noting that federal law trumps state law whenever there is conflict.
"It is hard to imagine a less productive use of time by key legislative officials than to pursue that which they have no power to pursue,” Steffey told the Associated Press.
5. Two Arizona bills would require public school students to pledge loyalty to the Constitution and American flag.
Arizona lawmakers introduced a couple of authoritarian bills that would violate students' free speech rights and laugh in the face of secularism. The first bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe, would force all high school seniors to proclaim their loyalty to a 200-year-old document under the blessings of the almighty deity. Under the bill, seniors would be obliged by law to repeat this pledge:
I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.
A second bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Steve Smith would require all students, K-12, to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance every day. Currently, all public schools are required to set aside time for the pledge, but students can opt out if they prefer.