Sex education becomes battlefield in U.S. culture war over LGBT+ rights

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09/08/2021

Sex education is emerging as the next battleground in a U.S. culture war over LGBT+ rights, as some conservative state legislators seek to keep discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity out of the nation’s classrooms. Lawmakers in three Republican-led states backed legislation this year to let parents take children out of classes covering LGBT+ identity – a step critics said will deprive gay and transgender youth of vital information and fuel discrimination. The governors of Arizona and Arkansas later vetoed their bills, fearing legal challenges, but Tennessee’s sex education law came into force in May, with conservatives hailing it as a boost to parental rights and religious freedoms. LGBT+ rights campaigners now worry that the school curriculum will increasingly be targeted by those pushing for a broad rollback on gay and trans rights, echoing a similar tussle in some eastern European countries. “Discriminatory legislators may be emboldened by the passage of (Tennessee’s law) along with the slew of anti-transgender bills to introduce similar legislation,” said Gabrielle Doyle from the Sexuality Information and Education Council, an NGO. “(As well as) medically accurate, unbiased information related to sexual orientation and gender identity… it offers them the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of their own identity and experiences,” she added. Educators and activists in Tennessee said the law’s broad wording could impact classrooms far beyond sex education – giving parents the right to opt their children out of any classes touching on LGBT+ history, culture or rights.

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