BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Two anti-LGBTQ bills are nearing their final votes and are poised to become law as they near their final votes in the Louisiana Legislature.

The state’s version of the Don’t Say Gay bill and another bill that would crack down on using a student’s preferred pronouns in school received senate committee approval, with the House already giving the OK.

HB122 bans teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation in classroom discussions that deviate from officially approved curriculum. Teachers will also be barred from talking about their own identities.

“Having sexualized personal discussions between educators and students in our classrooms are not appropriate and they can rob our children of their innocence while imposing suggestive influence over their developing young minds,” said state Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton.

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The bill goes farther than Florida’s original law by making it apply to K-12 rather than just younger grades. Florida recently reached a deal that would allow for teachers to talk about their own identities and the bill would not apply to lessons and books that happen to mention any LGBTQ characters or figures. 

The Louisiana bill also would not allow school sanctioned clubs to discuss identities such as GSA groups that often serve as a safe haven for many LGBTQ-youth who may not find acceptance at home.

“We are witnessing unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ youth, with their resources being stripped from schools that provide lifesaving support,” said SarahJane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality.

A companion bill cracks down on using a student’s preferred name and pronouns that don’t match what is on their birth certificate. HB121 does allow for parents to give permission for students to go by different names and use pronouns other than what they were assigned at birth.

However, teachers can still opt out based on their beliefs. Children have the option to change classes if that happens. Opponents to the bill raise the point that many schools may not have another class option for these students to move to.

“But it really tries to put these social issues to the side between the parent and the child and not involve the teacher in this,” said state Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City.

Statistics show that LGBTQ youth are at a high risk for mental health struggles and are more likely to be suicidal due to discrimination.

“We all had to be in the closet when we were kids. And you’re telling us, go back, you’re not welcome here,” said MJ Hebert, a public school social worker.

Both bills were vetoed by former Gov. John Bel Edwards, but now have support of Gov. Jeff Landry.

The bills head to the full Senate and they have until June 3 to be passed. 

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