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Missouri HB 2051 Threatens GSA's and LGBT Education in Missouri Schools.
April 20, 2012
by John Long

Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, and 19 GOP co-sponsors have introduced a bill in the Missouri legislature that would cause significant damage to the education of Missouri students on LGBT issues and threaten the existence of Gay-Straight Alliances in high schools.

Read the letter from PROMO Executive Director A.J. Bockelman (below) along with a link from PROMO on how you can sign a petition that will be collectively sent to our Missouri legislators showing your disapproval of this bill.

Randy Turner, a former reporter/editor and current educator has also posted a well written analysis of this bill in reference to other Missouri discriminatory legislation on his blog, The Turner Report. The link is below.

The Turner Report:

http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2012/04/new-bill-would-prohibit-any-discussion.html

Letter from PROMO Executive Director A.J. Bockelman

UNSPEAKABLE! Homophobia and Bigotry Make a Comeback in the Missouri Legislature

House Bill 2051 would bar Gay-Straight Alliances and discussion of sexual orientation in public schools; a reprehensible action on the eve of the Day of Silence

Earlier today Homophobia and Bigotry made their comeback in the Missouri legislature. House Bill 2051, sponsored by Representative Stanley Cookson (R-153), was referred to the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. This bill is co-sponsored by many members of the House Majority leadership such as Speaker-elect Tim Jones, John Diehl and current Speaker Steven Tilley. The text of the bill is short, but the intent is wide-ranging:

170.370. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.

Let's be clear. This bill, while clearly a flagrant violation of the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech, not only attempts to prohibit schools from even discussing gay and lesbian issues; it also aims to keep Gay-Straight Alliances from meeting on school grounds as approved extracurricular entities.

For the last several years, PROMO and our allies have worked to advance pro-lgbt legislation, and we are seeing steady, continuing success. Filing this bill is a desperate tactic by frightened, bigoted, cynical individuals who are terrified at the advancement the LGBT community has made in breaking down the barriers to full and equal treatment under the law. Why else would they file a bill so clearly out of step with the growing trend for fairness in this state when similar legislation filed in Tennessee last year led that state's legislature to become the object of national ridicule?

As the Executive Director for PROMO, Missouri's Statewide organization advocating for the LGBT community,it is clear that this proposed bill does absolutely nothing to protect students. In some ways, however, these enemies of Freedom of Speech have done us a favor. By attempting to coerce teachers and students into making this core reality of our lives literally unspeakable, they have only proved why LGBT students need greater, better, and stronger protection in our schools

Yours in Equality,
AJ Bockelman
Executive Director, PROMO

To stay up to date on the pending "Don't Say Gay" bill and send a message to the Missouri State Legislature, sign PROMO's petition. http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35019/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=902)
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