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Bills targeting talk of sexual orientation, gender identity in schools advance

A teacher leads a literacy exercise in Red River Parish in June 2021.
Aubri Juhasz
A teacher leads a literacy exercise in Red River Parish in June 2021.

A bill that prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in all K-12 public classrooms is just one stop away from final approval after lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee advanced the proposal.

Another bill to advance from the committee requires students to have parent permission to use pronouns that do not match their assigned sex at birth. Teachers could still refuse to use a student’s preferred pronouns on religious or moral grounds. In that case, a student would have the right to transfer to another classroom if available.

Lawmakers passed similar versions of both bills last year, but they were vetoed by then-Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, who called the measures unnecessary. Republican Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign the proposals into law.

Lawmakers on the committee also approved a bill that requires public schools and universities to report on diversity initiatives and related spending.

Similar legislation has popped up in several Republican-led states. All three bills head next to the Senate floor.

Molly Ryan is a political reporter and covers state politics from the Louisiana Capitol.