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A Missouri state lawmaker put a Republican colleague on the spot over an anti-LGBTQ bill that would prohibit teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools even more than the Florida law nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay.”
Rep. Phil Christofanelli, a gay Republican, challenged Rep. Ann Kelley on the House floor last week over the logic of the bill she sponsored, wondering if it would also prohibit teaching about heterosexuality, which is a sexual orientation.
“I’m just going to read you the language in your bill,” Christofanelli said, pointing to a section that stated no classroom instruction “relating to sexual orientation or gender identity shall occur.”
“You mentioned George Washington. Who is Martha Washington?” Christofanelli asked.
“His wife,” Kelley answered.
“Under your bill, how could you mention that in a classroom?” Christofanelli continued.
Kelley replied, “To me, that’s not sexual orientation.”
“So it’s only really certain sexual orientations that you want prohibited from introduction in the classroom,” Christofanelli shot back.
MO State Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R) criticizes fellow GOP Rep. Ann Kelley's anti-LGBT school bill.
PC: Who is Martha Washington?
AK: [George Washington's] wife.
PC: With your bill, how could that be mentioned in the classroom?
AK: That's not sexual orientation.
PC: Really? pic.twitter.com/3usn7LUg6Q
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) March 6, 2023
Kelley argued that she planned to improve the language of the bill.
“Lady, I didn’t introduce your bill,” Christofanelli interrupted. “And I didn’t write it; you wrote it. And so I’m asking what it means. Which sexual orientations do you believe should be prohibited from Missouri classrooms?”
“We all have a moral compass. And my moral compass is compared with [the] Bible,” Kelley said.
“You said that you didn’t want teachers’ personal beliefs entering the classroom, but it seemed a lot like your personal beliefs you would like to enter all Missouri classrooms,” Christofanelli pushed back.
In the end, Kelley was not able to answer the question about whether children could be taught about Martha Washington under the language of her bill, replying: “I don’t know.”
Kelley’s House Bill 634, introduced on Feb. 23, would prohibit instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in public and charter schools through the 12th grade. It’s one of the latest pushes for anti-LGBTQ legislation by Republican lawmakers in state legislatures around the country, part of a surge in conservative-driven discriminatory rhetoric against the community.
The bill is more extreme than the widely panned “Don’t Say Gay” law enacted in Florida last year, which prevents similar instruction in kindergarten through the third grade and dictates that any such teaching be “age appropriate” in the grades above third.
Last month, Kelley drew attention when she proposed a dress code that her fellow women in the Missouri House of Representatives slammed as “ridiculous.” The amendment, which was adopted, says women must wear jackets with their outfits.