Wyoming’s version of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ passes in the Senate

Sen. Dan Dockstader introduced the bill, which supporters say protects parental rights. Critics say it stigmatizes queer identities.
The bill passed in the state Senate 18-12 on Friday and will now be introduced in the House. (Kellie Parker/CC by 2.0)

 

Some Wyoming teachers could soon be forbidden from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. A bill passed in the Senate on Friday which prohibits teachers from focusing on these topics in kindergarten through third grade.

Supporters say the bill is intended to protect parental rights, but critics — such as Wilson resident Karyn Chin — call it discriminatory. 

“I do not feel like I’m being protected or that my daughter is being protected by this bill,” said Chin, who serves on KHOL’s Community Advisory Board.

Chin identifies as a queer woman and is concerned her first-grader won’t be able to talk about her family at school.

“It is essentially impossible for my daughter or anyone else trying to explain our family to do that without even some instruction on gender and sexual orientation,” Chin said.

The bill closely resembles Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which passed last year. The Wyoming version has seen support from groups such as the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne and the Laramie County chapter of Moms for Liberty — a national campaign to ban books about LGBTQ+ issues and race in school libraries.

Members of the Wyoming Education Association have spoken out against the bill, saying it stigmatizes queer identities.

Sen. Dan Dockstader, who represents part of Teton County, is sponsoring the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment.

The bill passed in the state Senate 18-12 and will now be introduced in the House. 

It’s just one of a handful of bills that advocates of LGBTQ+ rights say raise red flags. This includes one that could criminalize gender-affirming care for youth and another that could limit transgender students’ participation in sports.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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