Alabama Governor Signs Bill Removing ‘Anti-Gay Language’ From Sex Ed Curriculum
Alabama’s Republican governor has signed a bill requiring schools to remove anti-LGBTQ+ language from sex education curriculums.
The news comes amid the rise of homophobic and transphobic legislation across the US; for example, Arizona and Tennessee recently passed bills that would restrict sexual and gender identity education in schools by requiring parental permission. It should also be noted that Alabama signed an anti-trans sports bill last week.
Kay Ivey signed the sex ed bill, April 29, prohibiting teachers from telling students homosexuality is ‘not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public’ and that ‘homosexual conduct is a criminal offence under the laws of the state’ – this was earlier known as a ‘no promo homo’ law, criticised for being damaging and misleading to young people.
The bill, also sponsored by former teacher and Democratic state representative Laura Hall, ensures correct medical terminology is being used in schools with regards to sex education, Metro Weekly reports. Teachers will still be required to teach abstinence to avoid ‘unintentional pregnancy’ and/or STDs under Alabama law.
It won’t be the same hardline approach as before, where teachers would take aim at students for lacking ‘self control and ethical conduct’ if they engaged in sexual activity. Instead, they’ll discuss ‘delaying sexual activity’ until marriage and ‘discourage risky sexual behaviour.’
According to Hall, the focus was on making the curriculum more contemporary and scientifically accurate; given the Republican majority in the state, challenging LGBTQ+ attitudes (no matter how outdated and morally wrong they are) threatened to derail the bill.
However, echoing Arizona and Tennessee, the law also requires parents to be notified about sex education prior to their children taking lessons. The law comes into force on July 1 this year.
Courtney Roark, Alabama policy and movement building director for URGE, said in a statement: ‘Ending state-mandated homophobia in sex ed is a hard-won fight by advocates who’ve been working toward this for years.’
She added: ‘We are proud that young queer and trans folks, in particular, made their voices heard in ending this harmful requirement. This win is just one step in the direction of the sex ed we’d like to see in Alabama, which is sex ed that is comprehensive and LGBTQ+ affirming.’
The Southern Poverty Law Centre praised the bill, saying: ‘With these changes, we’re encouraged that all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation, will receive an education that empowers them to make healthy, informed decisions about their relationships and their bodies.’
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