Burgess Owens signs on to national ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

House Republicans introduced a bill that would ban any entity that receives federal money from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with children under 10, going far beyond Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Thirty-two House Republicans, including Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, signed on as co-sponsors of the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.). The “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act” would cut federal funding to libraries, school districts, hospitals, government entities, or other organizations for “hosting or promoting any program, event, or literature involving sexually-oriented material.”

The bill defines “sexually-oriented material” as “any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related topics.” This could include an elementary school teacher keeping a picture of their spouse on their desk or a rainbow flag sign at a hospital if kids enter the hospital. It’s unclear if simply allowing an LGBTQ person to work in a role where they interact with children would be considered a violation of the law.

The bill would also ban “any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals.” Rather than defining what exactly the bill prohibiteds, it allows parents to sue if they believe a government entity violated the law.

“The Democrat Party and their cultural allies are on a misguided crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology,” Johnson said in announcing his bill. “Planned Parenthood, for example, is encouraging legislatures and school boards around the country to implement sexual education curricula that teaches radical gender theory to children under 10. Children should be learning about reading, writing, and mathematics, not radical gender theory.”

Johnson said the bill also targets family-friendly drag shows and drag story hours.

Opponents of “Don’t Say Gay” bills say that they isolate LGBTQ youth and the kids of LGBTQ parents, teaching them that they and their families are too shameful to discuss in public, contributing to the outsized suicide rate among LGBTQ youth.

“Last year, nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth contemplated suicide, but that didn’t stop 33 of my GOP colleagues from introducing a federal ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill today,” Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) wrote on Twitter. “I’m confident the people introducing this bill are more likely to go to Hell than the kids they’re causing harm.”

With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House, this bill has no chance of passing. Instead, it was likely introduced just before the midterm elections to make it an issue for Republicans to campaign on and drive their base to the polls.

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