‘No promo homo’ laws: Legally required hate instruction in our schools

Opinion, LGBT, NakedLaw, News, Relationships, Rights

Alabama law flat-out requires that schools teach kids homophobia:

(c) Course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include all of the following elements: […]

(8) An emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.

Apart from demeaning LGBT students and encouraging bullying, this is actually a wrong statement of the law. In 2003, the Supreme Court held in Lawrence v. Texas that states may not punish same sex conduct as a crime. All laws that do have been unconstitutional since that 2003 ruling. A major basis of the sweeping ruling was the recognition that LGBT Americans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – something that Alabama entirely ignores with this law.

In South Carolina, sex education teachers are barred by law from talking about LGBT relationships, except in the context of disease:

(5) The program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.

8 states have anti-LGBT, ‘no promo homo’ education laws

At least eight states have anti-LGBT curriculum laws that expressly require demeaning LGBT relationships or sexuality: Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

States with “no promo homo” laws and states that prohibit enumerated anti-bullying laws. Credit: GLSEN

Sometimes called “no promo homo” laws, they reflect the ridiculous belief that curriculum inclusive of all people somehow “promotes” being gay. Some of these laws affirmatively require schools to portray LGBT people in a negative light, or prohibit schools from portraying LGBT people in a positive light. Others prohibit even the discussion of LGBT people in certain curriculum. Several states, like Alabama above, actually require instructing students on the wrong law.

What are these states thinking? If we talk about same sex relationships in health class, everyone will turn gay!

The dangerous statistics of teaching hate

LGBT kids in states that require this stigmatizing are more likely to hear homophobic remarks from school staff, are less likely to report incidents of harassment and assault to school staff, and are less likely to report having support from educators. Moreover, when incidents occur and educators do intervene, they do so less effectively in these states.

It’s still so hard to be an adolescent who is not heterosexual. LGBT kids are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. Each incident of harassment increases those odds.

How outrageous and sad that so many American states teach hate, when they should be teaching our children to respect and celebrate diversity.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.