PROMO and Progress Missouri today announced the launch of www.OKtoSayGay.org in response to HB2051, so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that would eliminate discussions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in public schools, prohibit teachers from addressing bullying based on sexual orientation, and likely ban gay-straight alliances.
The website invites students, educators and neighbors to voice their concerns with the bigoted proposal by upload videos or written messages. Since news of the bill broke late last week, thousands of Missourians have signed a petition denouncing the legislation or written their senators and representatives, demanding that they oppose the bill.
HB2051 is sponsored by Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Fairdealing), and co-sponsored by Speaker Steve Tilley (R-Perryville), Majority Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka), John Diehl (R-Town and Country), Dwight Scharnhorst (R-St. Louis), Andrew Koenig (R-Winchester), Lyle Rowland(R-Cedarcreek), Charlie Denison (R-Springfield), Lindell Shumake (R-Hannibal), Kurt Bahr(R-St. Charles), Don Wells (R-Cabool), Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan),Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters), Jeff Grisamore (R-Lee's Summit), Mark Parkinson (R-St. Charles), Paul Fitzwater (R-Potosi), Bill Lant (R-Joplin), Mike McGhee (R-Odessa) and Jay Houghton (R-Martinsburg). Rep. Scharnhorst strongly defended the bill on Friday. As quoted by KSHB:
“As far as what your life style is, I think it's been creeping into our educational system for far too long...Do that at home. Do that with your friends. Do that in areas, at your church. Talk about those things there. I don't see where they feel it's necessary that other students be educated in their lifestyle.”Bigoted statements and actions like these are exactly why Missouri needs strong, comprehensive anti-bullying legislation that protects all students from bullies. Anti-bullying legislation passed the Missouri General Assembly in 2006, but failed to include a list of students most often singled out and targeted for bullying. Without such a list in the law, school districts, administrators, and teachers do not have a clear understanding or training in how to recognize and handle all bullying situations. The Safe Schools Act would clarify these issues and reduce the negative impact of bullying upon LGBT students.