Press

Summary Of State Anti-Gay Legislation Attacking Education

Date: 
December 05, 1995

In July, when 43 states had completed legislative sessions, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released a state-by-state survey of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-related state legislation that moved forward during the 1995 legislative session. NGLTF discovered that anti-gay attacks through state legislation were pervasive and seemed to be on the increase according to state organizers. The report, Beyond the Beltway: State of the States 1995, tracked 97 gay-related measures including 39 anti-gay measures.

Of the at least 39 pieces of anti-gay legislation considered before state legislatures this year, 17, roughly 44%, focused on gay-related educational policies -- mandating only negative references to gay- related issues and individuals through the educational system. With some state legislatures continuing throughout the year, the following is a sampling of results so far:


Arizona

The Republican-controlled Arizona State Legislature adjourned April 22. The state's Governor is a Republican. The Radical Right exercises a working majority control of the Republican state party's governing body.* Moderate Arizona Republicans are, however, battling with the Radical Right for control of the Arizona GOP.

-- 1995 AZ SB 1348: Bans each district in Arizona from including a course of study which:

  • Promotes a homosexual lifestyle.
  • Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.
  • Suggests thatsome methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.
Signed by Governor, April 19, 1995.

Georgia

The Democrat-controlled Georgia State Legislature adjourned in mid-March. The state's Governor is a Democrat. The Radical Right exercises a working majority control of the Republican state party's governing body.*

-- 1995 GA HB 694: Prohibits state agencies from using state funds in any manner that assists, supports, or encourages certain activities (including homosexuality). Referred to committee with amendment.

-- 1995 GA HB 711: Prohibits public school from presenting homosexuality in a neutral light. Died in committee.


Iowa

The Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House adjourned in early May. The state's Governor is a Republican. The Radical Right exercises a working majority control of the Republican state party's governing body.*

-- 1995 IA Senate File 266: Bans state universities from funding programs "that have either the purpose or the effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as a positive lifestyle." The bill passed in the House but was rejected in the Senate.

Related Activity (Non-Legislative)

Following Radical Right pressure the Des Moines School Board last January dropped a proposal for the "infusion of sexual orientation issues" in public school curriculum materials. The board action followed anti-gay protests from Religious Right leaders, including Bill Horn of The Report (producer of the virulently anti-gay video, "The Gay Agenda") and right wing radio talk show host Jan Mickelson. School Board member Jonathan Wilson made national headlines when he came out as gay during local hearings on the measure. Radical Right forces converged on the state to defeat his re-election campaign.


Minnesota

The Democrat-controlled Minnesota State Legislature adjourned May 22. The state's Governor is a Republican. The Radical Right exercises a working majority control of the Republican state party's governing body.*

-- 1995 MN HF 1000: Bans programs for gay, lesbian and bisexual students in all school districts. This bill was a direct attack on the St. Paul school district and its program for gay/lesbian/bisexual students. Through a lobbying campaign that involved parents of gay/lesbian/bisexual children, social workers, teachers, students, and activists, the anti-gay language was removed from the bill. Failed in Conference Committee.


Mississippi

The Democrat-controlled Mississippi State Legislature adjourned April 4. The state's Governor is a Republican. More than 25% of the state Republican party's governing body is affiliated with the Radical Right, but they do not exercise majority control.*

-- 1995 MS HB 1669: Education appropriations bill that bans the teaching of homosexuality or bisexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle in Mississippi public schools. Mississippi schools have never had such programs. The American Family Association makes its home in the sponsoring senator's district. Passed Senate. Anti-gay amendment removed in Joint Conference Committee.


Wyoming

The Republican-controlled Wyoming State Legislature adjourned in late February. The state's Governor is a Republican.

-- 1995 WY HB 29: Requires parental approval if sex education, homosexuality and other topics are discussed in public schools. Failed in committee.


Anti-gay education-related legislation was also considered in California, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, and North Carolina

For a full report on gay-related state legislation see Beyond the Beltway: State of the States 1995. Contact Beth Barrett, NGLTF Media at 202-332-6483, ext 3215 or email bbarrett@ngltf.org

* Information about the strength of the Radical Right in each state's GOP is referenced from John F. Persinos's article "Has the Christian Right Taken Over the Republican Party?" published in the September 1994 issue of Campaigns and Elections, pages 21-24 and publications of People for the American Way.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.