On Tuesday, Texas lawmakers continued their witch-hunt against the LGBTQ+ community by deliberating a proposed legislation that targets “sexually-oriented celebrations” – a label that conveniently includes Pride Week.
Republican Rep. Ken King filed House Bill 1507 in Texas, which prohibits school districts from organizing or hosting programs aimed at celebrating or providing specialized instruction related to a particular sexual preference. The bill imposes severe penalties on non-compliant districts, including hefty fines of up to $10,000, and suspension or termination of teaching permits for educators involved in such programs.
“Having sexually-oriented celebrations at school, for all grades, is teaching our kids a sexual ideology – no matter who’s doing it,” said King. “If Pride Week is caught up in that, fine. But I didn’t specify one group over another.”
King claims his legislation doesn’t target any specific group, but during the hearing he refused to name any other event or group to which it would apply. In addition, King is sponsoring two other bills that directly target the LGBTQ+ community, HB 23 and HB 1686.
House Bill 23, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” requires that college athletes compete on teams that align with their sex assigned at birth and House Bill 1686, that would prevent doctors from providing transgender-related health care and procedures to kids under 18 years old.
Ultimately, King’s primary objective with HB 1507, he asserts, is to empower parents in all situations related to sexuality.
“As a parent, teaching my child to be accepting and how to view the world outside of our own lens is my job,” King said. “It’s not a school district’s job. It’s not a teacher’s job, and not every teacher is going to be happy about having to do this.”
Outlawing Valentine’s Day
State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, asked King if the bill would ban the celebration of Valentine’s Day – since it is a sexually oriented celebration.
King said he doesn’t think the bill would apply to Valentine’s Day celebrations, although he said that if it does, he would be willing to support a ban on those as well. Critics have raised concerns that since the bill’s language is so broad, apart from banning Valentine’s Day activities, it could also target gay-straight alliance clubs, prohibit teachers from celebrating marriages or pregnancies at school, or even block school dances, as reported by San Antonio Express-News.
However, King said his legislation was meant to be broad so that it wouldn’t target just one group, but that he was open to suggestions to narrow it down.
“If a teacher had an activity themselves, and it was a small group of kids that want to participate in it and their parents are OK with it, my bill is not trying to stop that,” King said. “My bill is trying to stop an entire district forcing the entire student population to participate in something whether they want to or not.”
“Every Group Has Suffered Discrimination”
In addition to claiming his legislation didn’t target the LGBTQ+ community, King undervalued years of discrimination against them.
When asked by Rep. Talarico if he believes LGBTQ+ people have historically suffered from discrimination, King answered that “every group has suffered discrimination of some kind.”
But later when Rep. Talarico compared banning Pride Week to banning Black History Month – which ensures a group of kids who have faced historical discrimination are included and uplifted in their community – King said that that was like comparing “apples to oranges.”
Despite what King believes, LGBTQ+ people are a historically marginalized group. 73 percent of LGBTQ young people say they have experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a 2022 national survey by The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization for LGBTQ youth focused on suicide prevention.
“Being a teenager and going through high school is hard enough already when you don’t have your own government working against you and your well being under the guise of doing what’s best for children,” a 19-year-old transgender Texan testified before the House committee on Tuesday, as reported by San Antonio Express-News.