"Don't say gay" bill sponsor receiving threats

Rep. Steve Cookson (R) has received threats after House Bill 2051 was introduced.
Rep. Steve Cookson (R) has received threats after House Bill 2051 was introduced.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - Some are calling it the "Don't Say Gay" Bill, and people are definitely talking about it.

Missouri Representative Steve Cookson said it's not only stirring up discussion, but also threats.

Rep. Cookson sponsored House Bill 2051, and said he's received hundreds of emails from people threatening things like they want to shoot him in the face.

Twenty-three words. Words that Cookson said he chose very carefully. Twenty-three words that prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools, with the exception of scientific instruction on human reproduction.

"I just think those are better left outside of the curriculum," said Cookson.

The bill has gotten a lot of attention. But Cookson said he thinks the attention is because people misunderstand the bill.

Cookson said he thinks sexual orientation is something to be discussed with families.

"I want to bring families back into education, and for those that don't have that support, we'll deal with those," said Cookson.

Cookson said that support for kids should come from school counselors.

"Counselors have special training to help students, whenever they're under emotional stress," said Cookson.

Cookson said he thinks schools need to stick to core curriculum: math, reading, and science.

"We need to keep the focus on those things for the student body, and not on other things that can be distracting," said Cookson.

But Mark Jones, Political Director for the Missouri National Education Association said he doesn't see those positive effects from the bill.

"It does nothing but further ostracize children who are exploring their sexual orientation," said Jones.

Jones said the bill would make it harder for students, and teachers.

"This would really tie the teacher's hands when they go to help children when they are being bullied because of their sexual orientation," said Jones.

Jones says kids spend numerous hours a day with teachers, and the teachers need the freedom to discuss problems students may have.

"On a day to day basis, what a teacher would experience is constant fear that if they discuss issues with a child, particularly issues involving bullying around their sexual orientation they could be terminated," said Jones.

Cookson said people in the education field should not be subjected to the tough decision of whether to talk about sexual orientation or not.

The House assigned the bill to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee for further discussion.

The bill reads:

HB 2051 -- Public School Curriculum

Sponsor: Cookson

This bill prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction.

To learn more what Missouri National Education Association says, click here.

The Missouri Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics also released a statement on the bill Wednesday:

April 25, 2012

Re: HB 2051

Dear :

I would like to bring to your attention our concerns about HB 2051, entitled "Public School Curriculum".

The Missouri Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics (MoAAP) is committed to the health and well being of all the children of Missouri. We are distressed that HB 2051 has been introduced into the Missouri Legislature. This bill, which would prohibit any discussion of issues around sexual orientation in public schools, forbid teachers from addressing bullying based on sexual orientation, and likely ban gay-straight alliances, is clearly harmful to the best interests of the children of Missouri. All children and teenagers need to feel safe in their schools, and HB 2051 takes that assurance away from them. Rather, we would urge lawmakers to institute public policy that will help children feel safe in their schools and will ensure that their voice will always be heard.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide any additional information.


Stuart C. Sweet MD, Ph D, FAAP


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