Mar 10, 2022 - News

"Don't Say Gay" bill introduced in Georgia Senate

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A Georgia senator has introduced a bill that’s drawing comparisons to Florida’s highly controversial “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Driving the news: Senate Bill 613, dropped Tuesday by Sen. Carden Summers, would prohibit discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in private school classrooms at the primary grade level.

  • It would also ban teaching that one race or sex is superior to another; that a person should be discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity; and that slavery represents the “true founding” of the U.S.

The bill applies to private schools that receive funding through the Georgia GOAL Scholarship program.

State of play: The legislation incorporates key components from S.B. 377, which would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” in public school classrooms.

  • It’s unlikely Summers’ legislation will pass the Senate in time for Tuesday, or Crossover Day, which is when all legislation introduced during this session must pass one chamber before it has a chance of becoming law.

What they’re saying: Summers, a Republican from Cordele, tells Axios he introduced the bill as a “conversation starter” and because parents also need to know what private schools are teaching their children.

  • “You can’t use the woke philosophy while using taxpayer funding,” he says.

The other side: Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, tells Axios the bill is similar to legislation that passed the Florida legislature and is an attack on diversity and inclusion efforts in schools.

  • Graham says about one-third of same-sex couples in Georgia are raising children and almost everyone in the state has a LGBTQ family member, so the bill would have a chilling effect on children who want to talk about their families in schools.
  • “It’s a throwback to decades of stigma that existed in the past,” he said of this and Florida’s legislation. “It’s a concerted effort to roll back the clock and try to eliminate LGBTQ folks from public life.”

Of note: Another bill targeting LGBTQ youth is also making its way through the General Assembly.

  • S.B. 435, now under consideration in the House, requires students to play on teams that match their assigned sex at birth, meaning that transgender students won’t be allowed to play on teams that match their gender identity.

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