House Republicans introduce federal "Don't Say Gay" bill

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Photo by Octavio Jones / Reuters
Photo by Octavio Jones / Reuters

Republican Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) has introduced a bill to cancel federal funding for any "sexually oriented material" — including drag queen story hours — aimed at children under 10 years old.

The bill was introduced October 18, with 32 cosponsors, all Republicans.

Titled the "Stop the Sexualization of Children Act," the measure claims that state and federal agencies have promoted and hosted "sexually oriented events" for children and their families. The events are described as drag queen story hours and burlesque shows.

The legislation explicitly states that taxpayer dollars will no longer fund programs, events, or literature that expose children younger than 10 to "nude adults," stripping," or "lascivious dancing."

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La — Photo by Patrick Semansky / AP  

Johnson said in an October 18 statement that his bill is necessary to stop a "misguided crusade" led by Democrats to expose the nation's children to "sexual imagery and radical gender ideology."

"This commonsense bill is straightforward," Johnson said. "No federal tax dollars should go to any federal, state, or local government agencies, or private organizations that intentionally expose children under 10 years of age to sexually explicit material."

Johnson's bill defines "sexually oriented material" as depictions, descriptions, or simulations of sexual acts, human genitals, or "any topic involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects."

Since no one has promoted events involving sex acts or depiction of genitalia, the measure is obviously aimed at discussions or positive images of sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTQ advocates immediately drew comparisons to a new Florida education law barring public school educators from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity, known as the "Don't Say Gay" law to its critics.

Like the Florida law, Johnson's bill would allow parents to sue public and private entities that use federal dollars on "sexually oriented" materials or programs for children — in other words, those that depict LGBTQ people in a positive light.

This provision runs counter to normal US legal practice, which requires plaintiffs in a civil suit to demonstrate "standing" to sue, usually some evidence that they, personally, have been harmed by the individual or entity they are suing.

Any organization that violates the measure more than once within a five-year period would lose access to federal funds for three years.