HB1332 by Rep. John Ragan is the House companion bill to Sen. Stacey Campfield's Don't Say Gay bill, which he has renamed the Classroom Protection Act. This bill would harm students by breaking trust and confidentiality as well as creating an environment conducive to bullying. No matter our political or theological leanings, we all can agree that children and teens should not be killing themselves because they have been placed in a situation so hostile and isolating toward them that they feel there is no other alternative.
This bill is a solution in search of a problem and it actually creates problems by making counselors and school personnel break confidentiality. While other children can go to teachers and counselors for guidance, a child struggling with their real or perceived sexual orientation will be left with no one at the school to whom they can turn for fear that asking simple questions will lead to being “outed” to parents – whether valid or invalid – and, especially in abusive home situations, it could have devastating consequences for the child.
Further, by prohibiting any discussion of homosexuality in sex education classes until after the 8th grade, this bill solidifies a child’s status as an “outsider,” provides institutional approval to the idea that there is something “wrong” with any child who does not fit into the one model taught, and, intentionally or not, gives a tacit endorsement to bullying by other children who have not been taught officially that anything other than heterosexuality exists.
As clergy we recognize that every child and every life is sacred to God. This condemnation and exclusion of any child by educational institutions, at the hands of politicians who claim to speak the truth of Christian teaching while proposing these laws, will lead directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. Students need a safe, confidential space in which to discuss matters important to them. Please do not make the lives and well-being of our children a casualty of politically-driven arguments. The stakes are too high.
And so we call for you to withdraw HB 1332 and to join with us to put an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation. We ask for you to help ensure that all proposed legislation protects the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons – whether children or adults. While those of us signing this letter may not agree on all issues political or theological, we do agree on one main point: children and teens should not be killing themselves because they have been placed in an environment so hostile and isolating toward them that they feel there is no other alternative.
Please, reconsider your sponsorship of this bill that would create such an environment.