True to its name, North Carolina’s proposed Don’t Say Gay Bill never actually uses the word “gay” or the acronym “LGBTQ,” and only uses the words “sexuality,” “gender” and “pronouns” once each.
But like other bills being promoted around the nation this year, HB755 is designed to appeal to deep fears of conservative parents that our schools are dens of indoctrination and hotbeds of weird, gay stuff they prefer not to understand. And it displays the ignorance of the legislators behind it, including House Whip Jon Hardister, a primary sponsor who — it seems fair to point out — is unmarried and does not have children himself.
For example, HB755 dictates: “Instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity shall not be included in the curriculum provided in grades kindergarten through third grade,” which ignores more than 100,000 LGBTQ+ adults who are raising children in NC. Must we wait until the third grade to broach the subject as to why Tyler has two mommies?
It also forces teachers to notify parents if their child has made a name or pronoun change at school — in other words, has “come out” among their peers but not at home. It doesn’t take a parent to see that this dictate pushes LGBTQ+ kids further into their closets, deeper into shame and closer to mental trauma. What it does take is a legislature that wants to punish kids for being gay.
In its treatment of parental involvement in childhood education, the bill assumes parents are expert enough to make recommendations and give critiques as to curriculum. By and large, however, they are not. Just 32 percent of North Carolinians have achieved any degree of education past 12th grade, and more than 10 percent of NC adults did not graduate high school at all.
More than anything else, the bill proves the validity of the Leandro decision, which found major discrepancies in our state’s public schools and directed the General Assembly to rectify it financially. The GOP-led legislature is fighting hard against Leandro, but, aside from the gay issue, their own bill makes mandatory things like college-planning services, mental-health counselors, school-choice events and other things that parents in the Triad have enjoyed for decades, but that smaller schools and their students have had to do without.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.