A Republican state lawmaker in Missouri wants to give parents the right to sue school districts that allow their children to be exposed to LGBT-related material, without first notifying them.
House Bill 1565, from GOP state Rep. Chuck Basye, would require districts to give parents an opportunity to opt their children out if class material, guest speakers, or displays mention sexual orientation or gender identity.
Basye says he filed the bill, part of a resurgence of “don’t say gay” legislation around the country this year, in response to a Gay Straight Alliance putting up posters at a Columbia middle school. However, Basye insists the bill isn’t anti-gay.
“There’s already a sign on the Business Loop (in Columbia) that labels me as a homophobe,” Basye told KOMU-TV. “This is exactly why people don’t want to speak out, because they don’t want to be labeled.”
“A lot of people, a lot of parents feel that they’re not listened to, by whether it’s the school board, the administration, or what have you,” Basye told Missourinet.com. “That’s the design of the last part of this bill is to give this a little bit of teeth so parents can take action if they feel that they’re not being listened to or their child is subjected to something they don’t agree with.”
Jay-Marie Hill, a representative from the ACLU of Missouri, said HB 1565 is likely unconstitutional. Among other things, it would make teachers responsible for what guest speakers say, and possibly result in their termination.
“This is not only way too far-reaching, but absolutely censorship of essentially livelihoods and existence at all,” Hill told MIssourinet.com.
Basye’s Democratic opponent in the 2020 election, Adrian Plank, also slammed the proposal.
“The bill would deem LGBTQ content in our public schools ‘inappropriate,'” Plank wrote on Facebook. “What I find inappropriate is a legislator that spends his time trying to pass bills that uses the power of the government to treat those most vulnerable like they are lesser human beings, or even worse, that they don’t exist.”
HB 1565, one of 15 anti-LGBT bills in the Missouri Legislature this year, has been referred to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
Watch KOMU-TV’s report below.