'Don't say gay' bill gains momentum in Missouri House

A bill in the Missouri House is one step closer to banning discussion of homosexuality in public schools.

It's being referred to as the 'Don't say gay' bill, which is being back by 19 representatives and has now moved into committee.

Members of Kansas City's gay and lesbian community feel that if this bill is passed, the legislature would be telling young homosexuals that they don't belong.

In its entirety, the bill would not only outlaw any discussion of homosexuality in public schools, but it would also ban any GLBT groups on school grounds.

That's something Hattie Svoboda-Stel, a junior at Saint Teresa's Academy, said would give bullies a free pass to target gay students.

"If they're unable to talk to about sexuality, or the fact that people are not straight, then if someone's being bullied because of the sexual orientation, teachers wouldn't be able to stick up or explain the situation or why it's not ok," she said.

Hattie is a member of EQUAL , a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

She said she disagreed with the bill because, "It's one of our basic rights to be who we are."

But bill cosponsor Dwight Scharnhorst said students should leave their sexual orientation at home.

"As far as what your life style is, I think it's been creeping into our educational system for far too long," he said. "Do that at home. Do that with your friends. Do that in areas, at your church. Talk about those things there. I don't see where they feel it's necessary that other students be educated in their lifestyle."

Claire Cook works with PROMO , a Missouri political organization that advocates for the GLBT community.

She said the bill does a disservice to all students.

"You are denying students the right to explain and express who they are. You're denying an entire generation of people from learning about a different part of society," Cook said.

PROMO started an opposing petition Friday morning, and by 5 p.m. it had more than 1,000 signatures.

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