Wyoming’s own “don’t say you’re gay” law has to find a new way after failing to clear its first hurdle this week.
Lawmakers now voluntarily reinstate gender identity and sexual orientation bans in classrooms ahead of Congress in 2024 after the school board voted against Tuesday at an interim meeting in Cheyenne. There must be.
While this represents a setback for some conservative lawmakers, the Joint School Board also called for “parental rights” to allow parents to more closely scrutinize and control their children’s health while they are in school. ” was also expanded. This is an important step for those advocating in the state. Parents should have absolute authority over their students.
The bill introduced by Senator Bo Bytman (R-Lanchester) reuses the bill of Senator Dan Dockstader (Afton R-Afton) that was passed in the Senate and then rejected by the House last time. It was an almost exact copy of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s controversial “”.parental rights in educationThe bill has been dubbed “Don’t Say You’re Gay” by opponents. The bill would have banned “classroom teaching” or “teaching in a way that is not age- or developmentally appropriate” regarding sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten through high school students.
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of 9 page bill, only eight lines were spent on the ban. But they caught the attention of nearly everyone on the Joint School Board, not just the legislative branch and attendees. The committee packed out the Wyoming State Capitol extension and lined up for and against the proposed ban. It was an unusual sight for an interim meeting, which is often sleepy.
Lawmakers have heard for the first time a warning from the Legislative Services Office that bans on gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms could face legal challenges as their constitutionality is questioned.a public note A report from a government agency shared last month concluded that the ban could violate both the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions.
“As currently drafted, this bill would restrict certain speech (classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten through third grade) and may not allow protected speech. Yes,” wrote Tania Hytrek, operations manager for the Legislative Bureau. “The First Amendment specifically prohibits any law that curtails free speech.”
The memo said the bill could also face issues of being too discriminatory and vague. The lawmakers didn’t seem to flinch at the warning. Senator Charlie Scott (R-Casper) backed the ban and said he didn’t think it could violate the Constitution.
“Why isn’t it as constitutionally justified as saying ‘We should teach reading in the first three grades’?” he said.
Hytrek replied that the problem lies in targeting specific subjects of gender identity and sexual orientation.
“There is some precedent when students are chilling the environment in which they are being educated, or when educators are chilling the environment in which they are educating. [in]It is a violation of a student’s First Amendment rights or a teacher’s First Amendment rights,” she said.
Many teachers and the Wyoming Education Association have voiced opposition to the ban, saying it has a “chilling effect” on educators. Laramie County First School District teacher Ryan McKenzie says he can’t talk about her husband in the classroom while other heterosexual teachers can keep talking about their family. I expected it to be. Some told lawmakers that the ban on “classroom instruction” was so broad that they were unsure whether it would allow gay and transgender students, or even genders as a whole.
Grady Hutcherson, president of the Wyoming Educational Association, said simply teaching English would be complicated.
“You can’t help but talk about gender identity, the use of pronouns, when to use ‘he’ and ‘she,'” he says. “Given its practicality in the classroom, this bill is highly concerning.”
Lawmakers struggled to further clarify the ban and understand its real-world implications. Some who testified both for and against the ban said lawmakers should at least be more specific about the ban so they know what teachers can discuss in the classroom. there is But just as many said at the Commission that the law should be enacted as is.
Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray said, “We need to focus on literacy, math, true abundance and social studies to spread our views and our true history.” “This gender ideology infused into our schools is extremely detrimental to our state’s future.”
The school board eventually passed a ban on gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom that would separate it from the rest of the bill. After being defeated by a 6-6 vote, the committee did not endorse the bill, which will need to be taken up by individual lawmakers to be considered by Congress in 2024.
But lawmakers pushed the rest of the bill that expands “parental rights” in Wyoming’s K-12 schools.
Despite not receiving much attention, the custody portion of the bill is important. This will require schools to immediately report to parents “any change in student services or monitoring related to the mental, emotional and physical health and well-being of a student.” At the same time, teachers should encourage students to discuss their health issues with their parents. School districts also failed to adopt “effective” policies that would encourage students to withhold information about their health and well-being from their parents.
The bill could fundamentally change the role schools play in student health. At the beginning of each year, school districts must share with parents all medical services they provide and allow parents to opt out of some or all of them. Schools will also need to notify parents when they plan to administer health questionnaires and screenings to students, presenting questions to parents in advance and again allowing students to opt out.
Few of those who opposed the bill spoke directly about expanding parental oversight in schools. But those who did said there could be consequences.
“A significant amount of cases of neglect and abuse are first detected during health screenings conducted by school districts,” said Tate Mullen, director of government relations for the Wyoming Educational Association. “I want to know how adults and abusive parents would feel if given the opportunity to opt out of screenings that catch most people.”
The bill includes exceptions that allow school districts to suspend the notification requirement if the information could lead to student abuse or neglect.
Rock Springs mother Ashley Wiley, who is embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit against the Sweetwater County First School District for covering up her child’s request to use male names and pronouns, told lawmakers: Passing laws to use parental names and pronouns is a thing of the past, he said. The power to supervise children and make decisions.
“I am a child’s number one advocate,” she said. “I love her and support her in everything she does. It’s me who protects her in everything, not her school district.”