Thirty-three of the most extreme House Republicans are sponsoring blatantly anti-LGBTQ “vigilante” legislation that is so broad and so poorly written it could effectively ban any and all mention of gender to children under 10 in any federally-funded facility or program. LGBTQ activists and others are calling it a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but it’s actually far more encompassing.
Similar to anti-abortion legislation out of Texas and now other states, the bill could reward anyone who files a complaint.
The text of Johnson’s bill says it is is designed to “prohibit the use of Federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”
Under “findings,” the bill laments, “Certain school districts that receive Federal grants have implemented sexual education for children under 10 years of age,” and “Many newly implemented sexual education curriculums encourage discussions of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology as early as kindergarten.”
The bill does not put any numbers or specifics to these “findings,” but it does appear to equate sexual orientation solely with homosexuality, and gender identity only with being transgender.
Congressman Johnson’s bill also attacks libraries that have “sexually-oriented literature and materials that target preadolescent children and teach them about concepts like masturbation, pornography, sexual acts, and gender transition,” while calling drag queen story hours “sexually-oriented events.”
The legislation bans any federal funds from being used for “any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, including hosting or promoting any program, event, or literature involving sexually-oriented material, or any program, event, or literature that exposes children under the age of 10 to nude adults, individuals who are stripping, or lewd or lascivious dancing.”
It provides definitions that appear to be intentionally broad.
For example: “The term ‘sexually-oriented material’ means any depiction, description, or simulation of sexual activity, any lewd or lascivious depiction or description of human genitals, or any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects.”
In other words, a man and a woman kissing in a play hosted by a federally-funded theater or college could by definition be banned – or children under 10 would have to be.
New York City’s Public Theater “Shakespeare in the Park” would have to ban any child under 10 from attending most productions. (Similar “Shakespeare in the Park” events are held each year in over two dozen cities across the country, any may or may not receive federal funds.)
The legislation specifically mentions federally-funded museums. Johnson’s legislation would force many museums to either ban children under 10 or place some works of art out of sight of children, say, in a back room or behind a curtain.
Harvard Law’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society clinical instructor Alejandra Caraballo, an attorney, this week blasted Johnson’s bill, exposing several disturbing aspects.
“Universities, public schools, hospitals, medical clinics, etc. could all be defunded if they host any event discussing LGBTQ people and children could be present. The way they define ‘sexually oriented material’ simply includes anything about LGBTQ people,” she writes.
Pointing to the vigilante aspect of the bill, Caraballo says it “includes a private right of action against any government official AND private entity for a violation. This is [Texas] SB8 style bounty lawsuits against anyone accepting federal funds. This will be a ban on all discussion of LGBTQ people in any entity that received federal funds.”
Caraballo goes on to liken the legislation to Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBTQ law, which led to horrific violence.
“This is the American version of Russia’s gay propaganda law passed in 2013. This is their end game. To censor and ban LGBTQ from all public life and force them back into the closet,” she says.
And while right wing news outlets are focusing on the drag queen aspect of the bill, as Caraballo notes, “In reality, the way the law is defined, it could apply to a school that has a screening of Buzz Lightyear.”
On a more personal note, Caraballo writes: “It is so incredibly dehumanizing and hateful for congressmembers to draft a bill that would define under federal law who I am as a queer trans woman as being “sexually oriented.” As if my very existence is harmful to children. It’s disgusting, heinous, and monstruous.”
Blogger Melissa Hillman, PhD, issues a similar warning.
“Republicans are planning to force LGBTQ Americans out of public life. They’re pretending any mention of LGBTQ people is ‘sexual content.’ It comes w a bounty hunter provision like Texas’ abortion ban. We could lose every American freedom in one election.”
So which Republicans re sponsoring this bill?
There are currently 33 original co-sponsors, including Congressman Johnson, who falsely claims that Democrats “are on a crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology at school and in public.”
Freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), who last year positively invoked Adolf Hitler, is one of the original sponsors. This week lauding Johnson’s bill she appeared to threaten anyone who opposes the legislation, tweeting: “Don’t mess with our kids!“
“We will not allow radical elites to use taxpayer dollars on perverted sex-ed curriculum and dangerous transgender policies that harm our children,” Miller said, adding she is “proud to join” Rep. Johnson “in signing onto the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act!”
The original cosponsors include: GOP Representatives Bob Good (VA), Brian Babin (TX), Jeff Duncan (SC), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Doug Lamborn (CO), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Lauren Boebert (CO), Greg Steube (FL), Debbie Lesko (AZ), Daniel Webster (FL), Ralph Norman (SC), Randy Weber (TX), Van Taylor (TX), Mary Miller (IL), Lance Gooden (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Glenn Grothman (WI), Bill Timmons (SC), Clay Higgins (LA), Steve Womack (AR), Tracey Mann (KS), John Joyce (PA), Scott Franklin (FL), Burgess Owens (UT), Matt Rosendale (MT), Russ Fulcher (ID), Tom Tiffany (WI), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Andrew Clyde (GA), Michael Guest (MS), and Dan Bishop (NC).
(Links in bold above lead to NCRM’s coverage of those specific lawmakers.)
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