Controversial Georgia sex education bill tabled
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Georgia’s version of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is once again dead in the water. After weeks of debate and even reworking some language in Senate Bill 88, members of the Senate Education and Youth Committee voted to table the legislation.
“Very disappointed. People don’t read the bills before they make erroneous statements,” said Sen. Carden Summers of Cordele.
Senator Carden Summers authored the bill. The South Georgia senator says he wants to stop teachers from talking to students about gender identity.
“Nobody was going to get in trouble about this. We just wanted to develop a system where involve parents,” said Sen. Summers.
Several groups came out against the bill in recent weeks, including the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition for Action. They feel the bill would hinder student conversation.
“It sensors the words and an expression that they use inside of classrooms. It keeps them from talking about their gender, or sexuality,” said Sa’real Mcrea, a student lobbyist with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition for Action.
Others say the controversial legislation specifically targeted LGBTQ+ youth and educators.
“Part of the reason I am opposed to 88 on a personal level is because I had a wonderful experience as a queer kid in high school and I want to see that across the state for other kids,” said Francesca Ruhe, a student lobbyist with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition for Action.
The Parents and Children Protection Act of 2023, as it was originally written, said both teachers and anyone with the supervision of a child under 16 can’t seek or provide information about sex, a child’s sexual orientation, or gender identity without written permission from a guardian.
To accommodate some critics, religious entities were given an exemption. Then during this latest committee hearing, some private school advocates also questioned if they too should be exempt.
“If you’re going to do this for everybody, do it for everybody. Make it there do it for everybody so that includes anybody in local apprentice, whoever is in charge of a child,” said Sen. Summers.
Time is running out for the bill to move forward this legislative session. Crossover day is March 6. Sen. Summers says if they run out of time this session, he’ll work on the bill and present it again next session.
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