It also prohibits the use of federal funding for any event that “exposes children under the age of 10 to naked adults, individuals stripping, or lewd or lascivious dancing.” And it says federal facilities cannot be used to “host or promote programs, literature or events of a sexual nature” for children under 10.
The bill defines “sexually” as “any depiction, description or simulation of sexual activity, any obscene or lascivious depiction or description of human genitalia, or any subject matter involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgender, sexual orientation or related topics. .”
The bill provides that parents can sue school districts in federal court for breaking the law, and it threatens disobedient school districts with the loss of federal, state and local funding for up to three years. He is the latest in a wave of hundreds of proposed laws over the past three years that also aim to restrict what children can learn and do in school as part of education’s culture wars, The Washington Post previously reported.
Johnson touts the bill as a necessary step to combat the liberal public school agenda, echoing baseless but increasingly popular right-wing claims that public school LGBTQ teachers are “grooming” children for sexual abuse. Johnson wrote on Twitter“The Democratic Party and its cultural allies are on a crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology in school and in public.”
The bill prompted an immediate backlash from Democrats, educators and LGBTQ rights groups.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who declined a request for comment, tweeted Thursday that the bill is “odious” and that she will fight the measure “as the proud mom of an amazing trans child.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in an email that Johnson’s bill resembles Florida’s 2021 law – dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents – banning the education on gender identity and sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through third grade and limiting lessons on these topics for upper grades. Weingarten said this type of legislation harms “the most vulnerable children for cheap political gain.”
And Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of LGBTQ rights group GLSEN, warned in a statement Thursday that “erasing LGBTQ+ issues from classrooms jeopardizes the foundations of our democracy.”
Asked about the critics, Johnson wrote in an emailed statement Thursday that the bill is “simple and common sense… Our young children should learn reading, writing and math in primary school, and not radical gender theory or the intricacies of drag culture.”
The bill comes amid a flurry of education legislation: More than 283 state laws have been proposed in the past three academic years aimed at reshaping how students learn and the rights they have in school, according to an analysis by Post. Of the proposed bills, 64 have so far become law in 25 states, whose populations together make up nearly half of the nation.
Johnson’s six-page bill makes several statements about K-12 public education in the United States, stating that nationwide sex-ed curricula falsely encourage “discussions about sexuality, sexual orientation, transgender and gender ideology” for children who are too young to understand these topics. Sex ed in most of the country is actually already quite limited by state law, The Post reported: Only 29 states and DC require students to receive sex education, while 16 states mandate “abstinence-only” sex education.
The bill also states that “state and local library systems, museums, and other educational institutions… have purchased literature and materials of a sexual nature that target preadolescent children and teach them concepts such as masturbation.” , pornography, sexual acts and gender transition”.
It follows a historic wave of attempts to ban and question school books. Most targeted literature across the country has been written by or about LGBTQ people or people of color. Usually the arguments against keeping LGBTQ literature in schools are that it is too sexually explicit, while proponents of the books argue that there is a need for LGBTQ children to see themselves reflected and represented in what they read.
LGBTQ student groups have also to be under firewith conservative parents, pundits and politicians alleging without evidence that Gay-Straight Alliance clubs are sites of political indoctrination.
Johnson’s bill further alleges that federal funds were used “to organize and promote sexually oriented events like drag queen story hours and burlesque shows.”
Slide story time, founded in 2015 in San Francisco, is a national program that invites drag queens to libraries to read books aloud to children, a practice that advocates say gives LGBTQ children greater representation and empowers all students to discover diverse lives and beliefs. These family drag events, sometimes held at libraries, including school libraries, have in recent months have drawn escalating protests conservatives and politicians, as well as right-wing extremists, including the Proud Boys.
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