Republicans are proposing bills that would outlaw sex, sexuality education for children

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Republican lawmakers have proposed a far-reaching new law that would ban public schools from offering young students education or literature that discusses gender identity, sexual orientation and transgender people.

The legislation, introduced in Congress this week by a group of 33 House Republicans led by Rep. Mike Johnson (La.), called the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act. It would prohibit the use of federal funding “to develop, implement, facilitate, or finance any sexually oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10.”

It also prohibits the use of federal funding for any event that “exposes children under the age of 10 to naked adults, persons stripping, or indecent or lascivious dancing.” And it says federal facilities cannot be used to “host or promote sexually oriented” programs, literature or events for children under 10.

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The bill defines “sexually oriented” as “any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitalia, or any subject matter involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related topics.”

The bill says parents can sue school districts in federal court for violating the law, and it threatens disobedient school districts with the loss of federal, state and local funding for up to three years. It’s the latest in a wave of hundreds of laws proposed over the past three years that similarly aim to limit what children can learn and do in school as part of the education culture wars, The Washington Post previously reported .

Johnson touts the bill as a necessary step to fight back against the liberal public school agenda, echoing baseless but increasingly popular claims from the right that LGBTQ teachers in public schools are “grooming” children for sexual abuse. Johnson wrote on Twitter: “The Democratic Party and their cultural allies are on a crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology in school and in public.”

The proposed law drew immediate pushback from Democrats, educators and LGBTQ rights groups.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who declined a request for comment, tweeted on Thursday that the bill is “hateful” and that she will fight the measure “as the proud mother of an incredible trans child.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in an email that Johnson’s bill is similar to Florida’s 2021 law — called the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents — that bans teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through third grade and limiting lessons on these topics for higher grades. Weingarten said this kind of legislation hurts “the most vulnerable children for cheap political gain.”

And Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of LGBTQ rights group GLSEN, warned in a statement Thursday that “erasing LGBTQ+ issues from classrooms endangers the foundations of our democracy.”

Asked about the criticism, Johnson wrote in an emailed statement Thursday that the bill is “straightforward and common sense … Our young children should be learning about reading, writing and math in elementary school, not radical gender theory or the finer points of drag culture.”

The bill comes amid a flurry of education legislation: More than 283 state laws were proposed over the past three academic years that sought to reshape how students learn and the rights they have in school, a Post analysis found. Of the proposed bills, 64 have so far become law in 25 states whose combined population makes up nearly half of the nation.

Johnson’s six-page bill makes several allegations about public K-12 education in the United States, stating that sex education curricula across the country falsely promote “discussions of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology” for children who are too young to to understand them. subjects. Sex education in most of the nation is actually quite limited already under state law, The Post has reported: Only 29 states and D.C. require students to receive sex education, while 16 states mandate “abstinence only” sex education.

The bill also says that “state and local library systems, museums and other educational institutions … have purchased sexually oriented literature and materials that are directed at preadolescent children and teach them about concepts such as masturbation, pornography, sexual acts and gender transition.”

It follows a historic wave of attempts at textbook bans and challenges. Most of the literature targeted across the country is written by or about LGBTQ people or people of color. Usually, the arguments against keeping LGBTQ literature in schools are that it is too sexually explicit, while supporters of the books argue that it is necessary for LGBTQ children to see themselves reflected and represented in what they read.

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Student LGBTQ groups have also come under fire, with conservative parents, pundits and politicians claiming without evidence that the Gay-Straight Alliance clubs are sites of political indoctrination.

Johnson’s bill further claims that federal funds have been used “to host and promote sexually oriented events such as drag queen story classes and burlesque shows.”

Founded in 2015 in San Francisco, Drag Story Hour is a national program that invites drag queens to libraries to read books aloud to children, a practice advocates say gives LGBTQ children greater representation and allows all students to learn about different lives and beliefs. These family-friendly drag events, sometimes held in libraries, including school libraries, have drawn escalating protests in recent months from conservatives and politicians, as well as far-right activists including Proud Boys.

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