Politics

Georgia Republicans brazenly introduce ‘Don’t Say Gay’ copycat. Here’s what it actually means

Maggie Baska March 10, 2022
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Two people hold signs reading "Stand with LGBTQ families" and "Proud to be gay" as they protest the passage of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill

Anasofia Pelaez and Kimberly Blandon protest after the passage of the "Don't Say Gay" bill on 9 March 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Getty/Joe Raedle)

Georgia lawmakers filed their own version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill hours after Florida passed its own.

The bill (SB 613) is formally titled the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act” and is sponsored by 10 GOP state senators.

If passed, it would prohibit schools from encouraging “classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity” both in primary grade levels, and “in a manner that is not appropriate for the age and developmental stage of the student”.

Anthony Michael Kreis, professor of law at Georgia State University, pointed out its similarities to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill – which passed out of the Florida Senate on Tuesday (9 March).

He warned that while “constitutionally infirm”, the the “profoundly hateful” legislation would harm “Georgia’s children, chill speech and would be used as a cudgel to attack LGBTQ people and their supporters”.

“It serves no interest but a bare desire to harm,” he added.

The bill alleges that “some teachers and other personnel in private and non-public schools” have “inappropriately” discussed gender identity with kids “who have not yet reached the age of discretion”.

SB 613 also, without evidence, claims that some curricula and programmes adopted by Georgia schools are based on “critical theory” which has caused “private schools to segregate students, staff and parents by ethnicity, colour, race and national origin”.

“That such a focus on racial and gender identity and its resulting discrimination on the basis of colour, race, ethnicity, and national origin is destructive to the fabric of American society,” the bill claims.

Georgia’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will very likely fail

While the bill’s introduction is alarming for the LGBT+ community, people on Twitter pointed out that the legislation isn’t likely to advance as the Georgia Senate’s Education and Youth Committee is not scheduled to meet on 9 March, which is the last day for the bill to pass out of the committee.

Maya T Prabhu, a statehouse reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted that the bill “can’t go anywhere… mathematically” speaking. But Prabhu said “there are always ways” for it to live on as an amendment to “another bill”.

Political reporter Greg Bluestein reiterated that the proposed legislation is “going nowhere fast in the Capitol this year”.

But he said the bill’s introduction still sends a chilling “statement” on what Republican lawmakers’ priorities are ahead of the Georgia primaries in May and the general election in November.

“But it also makes a statement when 10 GOP senators — including candidates for statewide office — sign on,” Bluestein wrote. “Expect to hear it on the campaign trail — and possibly pave the way for debate next year.”

Kreis admitted the “danger” the “Don’t Say Gay” bill would pass is “lessened given the timing” but said “nothing is final ’til the gavel comes down on sine die”.

“Beware the Christmas Tree Bill at the last hour,” Kreis said.

He added in a later tweet that the focus on the “timeline” of SB 613 “misses the point” as such bills “cannot be ignored or shrugged off when people in power are willing to sign their name to it”.

Another person pointed out that even just putting forward the “Don’t Say Gay” bill will have a lasting impact on the queer community in Georgia and across the country.

“Even if it goes nowhere, it endorses and heightens transphobia and homophobia in everyday life,” one Twitter user said. “Similar to what we saw/see in TX, it intends to intimidate and silence LGBTQ folx by what *could* be done.”

More: don't say gay bill, Georgia

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