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House votes to extend prohibition on LGBTQ subjects in classroom through eighth grade

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The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to expand the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” provision through eighth grade.

That’s a lesser expansion than proposed when Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, filed HB130 early this session.

The version of the bill passed through a House committee earlier this month would have expanded the prohibition through 12th grade.

Butler said Tuesday that an amendment to scale the bill back came at the request of education officials.

Democrats contested the bill on the floor for two hours.

“All of you in this body know LGBTQ people and know they are people just like you and me, people made in the image of God,” said Rep. Marilyn Lands, D-Huntsville.

Butler and other supporters said the bill is about parental rights.

“They want the math teacher teaching math and the English teacher teaching English, not telling Johnny that he is really a girl,” Butler said.

During a committee meeting on the bill, Butler said he had heard from a grandmother who believed their grandchild had transitioned because of a schoolteacher, leading House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels to chuckle in disbelief.

Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, the Legislature’s only openly gay lawmaker, proposed an amendment that would have prohibited the instruction only if it were “intended to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation,” but lawmakers voted to table the amendment. 

The bill also bans teachers and school employees from displaying pride flags or other LGBTQ+ symbols in schools, an amendment that came in committee.

The bill is similar to others in red states across the country, the most well-known being a Florida law that just reached a court settlement.

The bill now advances to the Senate, with six days remaining in the legislative session.


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