NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is one of four states with laws on the books that limit sex education to that between a man and a woman.
Now, Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, from the Shreveport area wants to bar school employees from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.
Her bill would apply to kindergarten through eighth grade.
Horton says people in her district support the measure.
“They just don’t want to take a chance of their children being influenced in a manner that is not conducive to their lifestyle or to their personal beliefs,” Horton said.
Horton admits she wasn’t aware of the need for the bill until she started reading about a similar measure that just passed in Florida.
“It just solidified the need for us to protect our Louisiana children as well,” she said.
Opponents have dubbed the legislation “Don’t Say Gay.”
“It has taken on that name because that’s exactly the intent that the people that are filing these bills all across the country are trying to do," Forum for Equality Executive Director Sarahjane Brady said. “They’re trying to censure and eliminate the discussions of LGBTQ individuals.”
Horton’s bill seeks to isolate and stigmatize the LGBTQ community, Guidry added.
“We need to make sure that we’re not censoring these discussions and rather making inclusive classrooms in which students that are at a higher level of bullying and suicide are welcomed," she said.
Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards sent a clear message how he feels about this type of legislation during Monday’s State of The State address.
“Some of the bills that are being brought up this session, they really don’t do anything to make lives better, they don’t continue to move us forward, they do however serve to divide us and some are reminiscent of a dark past that we should have learned from and not relive,” Edwards said.
Despite the opposition, Horton is determined to get the bill through the Republican controlled state legislature.
“I started to pray about how we could protect our children here from inappropriate conversations until they are able to dissect it and old enough to understand it,” Horton said. “So, I talked to my pastor and he challenged me and said we just may need to do this.”
The New Orleans City Council is taking a stand against the sexual orientation bill.
A resolution by council President Helena Moreno and co-authored by all members of the city council condemned the legislation.
Moreno said in a statement, "The level of cruelty in these bills is tragic, and it's shocking that some legislators can't understand that this bigoted legislation creates terrible harm for kids."
The bill has yet to be set for its first hearing.