Jefferson City – by Erin Luth, MO State Capitol intern, University of Missouri junior
State Rep. Zachary Wyatt (R- Kirksville) “came out” this morning to incredible support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He revealed his sexual orientation for the first time publicly while speaking out in opposition of HB 2051, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill which would restrict on in-school discussions of sexual orientation. This bill has been called bigoted and mean-spirited because it would prevent children and teens from seeking help from teachers while trying to understand their sexual orientation. Also, it would limit teachers abilities to stop bullying based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identification. In addition, it would prevent any after school or gay/straight alliances in schools —currently there are over 80 high school groups across the state.
The Columbia Daily Tribute reviews the State Capitol news conference this morning organized by PROMO and Progress Missouri featuring four GOP and five Democratic lawmakers who asked the 20 co-sponsors to withdraw HB2051.
Five members of the Democratic House Progressive Caucus have something to say about the hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and Rep. Wyatt’s courageous statement:
Rep. Stacey Newman, House Progressive Caucus Chair (Richmond Heights): “We applaud Rep. Wyatt for his courage in speaking out for himself and for ALL kids. HB 2051 is bigoted at its worst. 38 members of the House Progressive Caucus have sent a letter to each 20 sponsors of this harmful bill asking them to withdraw their bill. So far, no response.”
Rep. Mary Still (Columbia): “It is a very brave thing he did. It is so important right now because he was able to bring attention to a very bigoted and mean-spirited piece of legislation (HB 2051).”
Rep. Sarah Lampe (Springfield): “I greatly admire his strength and courage and want him to know he has people and friends surrounding him to support his coming out and being himself.”
Rep. Chris Carter (St. Louis): “Congratulations to Rep. Wyatt for coming out, he is now free to be himself. This bill is a hunk of crap and needs to be withdrawn. In this day and age, sexual orientation needs to be discussed in public school. Children deal with their sexuality day to day and they need to be able to talk to a teacher about this issue. The possibility of suicide is a consequence of denying children the ability to talk about what is going on with them. Bullying children who are gay is a real problem in school and kids can be rough. We need to take this seriously before these children are hurt or something really serious happens.”
Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (St. Louis City): “Having come out myself and knowing how the media is, I’m very proud of him for taking this difficult step. I hope the Republicans who filed the bill will withdraw HB 2051 which puts a gag order on discussions of sexual orientation. Teachers need a way to talk about sexual orientation with students who are struggling through exploring their sexual orientation. I hope we (the legislators) will all support our students in their time of need.”
Rep. Tracy McCreery (Olivette): “It is great to know we live and work in a building where people can be themselves and are accepted for who they are. I hope more people follow Rep. Wyatt’s example in opposing HB 2051.”
If you agree with almost 5000 supporters state and nationwide (so far!) who oppose HB2051, visit oktosaygay.org and urge your state legislator to stop this horrible bill.