Mike Johnson, author of the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act (Mike Johnson's office/WWNO)

National “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Intensifies Midterm Elections

Throughout 2022, many bills have been proposed on a local, state, and federal level concerning LGBTQ education and visibility. An analysis by The Washington Post found that of 64 laws passed in the last three years limiting educational content, 23.4% concerned LGBTQ education. In September, a bill dubbed the “Stop The Sexualization of Children Act” was introduced to Congress by Louisiana Representative Mike Johnson (R, he/him). It has garnered traction among Republicans and concern among Democrats. Many consider it to be an attempt at a nationwide “Don’t Say Gay” bill, echoing the moniker given to the Florida “Parents Rights in Education” bill, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis (R, he/him) in March.

The proposed bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for “any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10.” The bill defines “sexually-oriented” as “any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving gender transition, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.” Many critics of the bill have argued that this definition is too broad, pointing out that discussions about sexual orientation could apply to those who are not LGBTQ at all. Others have argued section 3.1, which insists that parents hold the right to determine what is acceptable for their children to learn, takes the agency away from the parents who want their children to learn about LGBTQ topics and places it in the hands of a vocal minority. 

The proponents of the bill argue that the topics discussed are an attempt to groom children into a sexually deviant lifestyle at a young age. Critics say that this is a common scare tactic that has been used to demonize the LGBTQ community since before the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The Stop the Sexualization of Children Act currently has 32 co-sponsors. With midterm elections coming up that could alter the party composition of Congress, the future of this bill is uncertain.

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