It was a bill that would have deprived Missouri classroom teachers of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and made the already serious problem of bullying in schools into an epidemic.
The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, during the 2012 session, would have prevented any discussion about gay issues, including gay marriage and bullying, in Missouri schools.
Usually, when you have a ludicrous bill, you don’t see any co-sponsors. Not in the Show-Me State, where more than 20 representatives battened down Cookson’s door for a chance to sign on. After all, in the Missouri Legislature, it’s not politically correct to target African Americans, Hispanics, or the poor (just eliminate funding for anything that helps them and cut taxes for anyone who won’t hire them) but you can still jump on the bandwagon for any anti-gay bill and be rewarded with a wider victory margin come next election time.
When the “Don’t Say Gay” bill received national attention, Cookson issued the following statement:
"Many of the recent articles on HB 2051 have shifted focus away from the true intent of my legislation, which is meant to protect the moral values that are most important to Missouri families. In a time when our public schools continue to struggle financially, we want their focus to be solely on core education issues such as math, science and reading; and not on topics that are better left for discussion in the home at the discretion of parents. It's also important to point out that my bill does not target a particular sexual orientation but instead says instruction or materials related to any sexual orientation should not take place in our public schools. This would not prohibit a student struggling with his or her sexual identity from talking to a school counselor or cause any of the other issues that have been misreported by the media. Instead it would simply ensure the focus of our public schools is on the curriculum parents expect their children to learn when they send them to school each day."
Cookson’s statement was the height of hypocrisy since he was also the co-sponsor of a bill last session that would have mandated discussion of sexual orientation- of the heterosexual variety. HB 1631 called for providing “dating abuse information” to students in grades 7-12.
The bill included this section:
3. For purposes of this section, "dating abuse" means a pattern of behavior in which one person uses or threatens to use physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to control the person's dating partner. "Dating partner" means any person who is involved in an intimate association with another person that is primarily characterized by the expectation of affectionate involvement that includes casual, serious, and long-term dating partners.
Now correct me if I am wrong, but even if this was limited to discussions of boys and girls dating, isn't heterosexuality a sexual orientation?
Cookson never answered any questions from the media about his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. A Huffington Post article noted Cookson never returned a call asking for a comment. His assistant, Agnes Rackers, told HuffPo her boss rarely speaks to people from outside of his district. ‘He will probably not get around to calling you back since you are not in his district,’ “
Even the House of Representatives realized this bill was a loser and it never went anywhere, but no bad deed ever goes unrewarded in this state.
Today, Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka, a co-sponsor of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, tabbed Cookson, a former public school teacher, principal, and superintendent, as chairman of the House Education Committee.
And so continues Missouri's rapid change from the Show-Me State to the You've Got to Be Kidding State.