Eight states have laws, sometimes called “no promo homo” laws, which restrict or forbid teachers from talking about LGBTQ issues in schools.
The laws themselves range from state to state: in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, they pertain specifically to health courses, with most stating that teachers cannot instruct students on LGBTQ sexual health. In Oklahoma, the law requires that AIDS education include the false claim that “engaging in homosexual activity” is one of the behaviors “primarily responsible for contact with the AIDS virus.”
School districts in Arizona cannot use curriculum that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle,” while Utah teachers cannot participate in “the advocacy of homosexuality.” (When the laws were passed, “homosexual” was a blanket term for any LGBTQ person, which many LGBTQ leaders say is now outdated.)
Obviously, this gag rule is harmful for students. For one thing, it keeps young people from learning important health information that could help them avoid illness. Plus, it maintains the harmful stigma surrounding queer identity.
Fortunately, some people are fighting these laws. Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have brought a federal lawsuit to overturn the “no promo homo” law in Utah.
And in Alabama, activists are fighting to get rid of a state policy that requires teachers to tell students that having gay sex is “a criminal offense.”
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