Louisiana House passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Bill would protect conservative views on trans rights

By: - May 10, 2023 6:00 am
Rep. Dodie Horton at podium on House floor

State Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, debates her bill on the Louisiana House floor on May 9, 2023. (Photo credit: Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a so-called Don’t Say Gay bill Tuesday that would prohibit teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation, and it would protect only teachers and parents who hold conservative views of transgender rights. 

House Bill 466, sponsored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, passed in a 67-28 vote. Six Democrats joined with Republicans on the measure, including Reps. Roy Adams of Jackson, Chad Brown of Plaquemine, Mack Cormier of Belle Chasse, Kenny Cox of Natchitoches, C. Travis Johnson of Vidalia, and Pat Moore of Monroe.

At the same time, five Republicans voted against it: Reps. Mary DuBuisson of Slidell, Barbara Freiberg of Baton Rouge, Stephanie Hilferty of Metairie, Tanner Magee of Houma, and Richard Nelson of Mandeville.

The bill is much broader than a similar measure passed in Florida and would apply to all K-12 grades, whereas Florida’s law applies only through the third grade. Horton’s proposal applies to any school employee or volunteer, and it covers discussions in the classroom and during any extracurricular activity.

Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, asked if such a law would prohibit civics classes from covering U.S. Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage. No one answered her question.

Floridas law also makes allowances for situations in which a student may be subject to physical or emotional abuse by their parents. It allows school personnel to withhold information from a parent if they believe disclosure might result in abuse, abandonment or neglect. Hortons bill has nothing like that.

Louisiana House approves bill to let teachers reject student’s pronouns

Similar to a bill the House passed Monday, Horton’s legislation would further prohibit the use of a student’s preferred pronoun that differs from the gender listed on their birth certificate unless a student’s parent provides written permission. However, her bill would allow a teacher to ignore a parent’s permission for certain religious or moral reasons. 

Only parents and teachers who take the more conservative position of refusing to accept a child’s preferred pronoun would be protected under Horton’s proposal. Her bill makes no allowances for teachers who might hold moral or religious views that would compel them to accommodate transgender students who don’t have their parents’ permission.

Florida’s law contains no prohibitions on pronoun or name use. 

Horton accused Louisiana teachers of indoctrinating students with certain ideologies and said children shouldn’t be “socially engineered” at school. She added that no schools, school boards or school districts in Louisiana have expressed any opposition to her effort.

When asked for specific instances of indoctrination, she said she saw a tweet in which a teacher claimed to “delight” in causing confusion by dressing like a man on some days and a female on other days.

In response, Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, pointed out that Horton’s bill would do nothing to stop teachers from dressing in ways that might confuse their students. 

Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, said a teacher who speaks with a student about gender identity is essentially engaging in “malpractice” because such discussions should be left to medical professionals.

The bill next heads to the Senate for consideration.

Correction: Six Democrats voted in favor of House Bill 466. A previous version of this article left out one of the names.


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi.