State lawmakers are renewing debate at the Capitol over Georgia’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” law

In an off-season hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday, Cordele Republican Sen. Carden Summers reintroduced a bill introduced earlier this year that he said would protect children in Georgia from exposure to controversial gender ideology become.

“I don’t want anyone talking to my grandchild about his gender and trying to convince him to change his gender, not change his gender, all of that,” Carden said. “I don’t want a racist person maybe teaching my child, talking to my child about racism, trying to teach them to be a racist person. I would like this to be left up to the parent or guardian, at least until they are 16, which is the age of consent in Georgia.”

The bill would require anyone acting in place of a parent, including public and private school teachers, church leaders, or camp counselors, to obtain parental permission before offering “curriculum or instruction that addresses issues of gender identity.” Queer theory, gender ideology, etc. “Gender transition.”

Opponents have described the bill as Georgia’s version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which angered Summers, author of a now-enacted bill that restricts access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Senator Carden Summers. Ross Williams/Georgia recorder

“It’s not a bill that doesn’t involve saying gay,” he said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “I understand that the people behind me think that and want to make fun of it, but in reality I don’t care if it’s their kids, your kids or my kids, it’s not the responsibility of the person in charge.” Teaching children what they believe is right about gender.”

More than 40 people have signed up to speak on the bill, almost all of them opposed. The proposed law came under fire from LGBTQ advocates and free market advocates alike. The former said it unfairly targets transgender students and could prevent important conversations with supportive adults. The concerns of free market supporters centered on government intervention and the surveillance of private organizations.

To support his point, Summers invited Kate Hudson, founder of a conservative nonprofit called Education Veritas, to testify. Hudson showed lawmakers a slideshow that she said shows elite private schools in Atlanta serve extremist ideologies.

Their examples included a drag performer speaking to students, a school handing out business cards with personal pronouns, and a teacher encouraging students to say “Hey everyone” instead of “Hey guys” to be more inclusive.

“This attempt to indoctrinate students has nothing to do with kindness, inclusion of others or belonging,” she said. “It is a conscious attempt to dismantle society and brainwash our youth through queer theory and political ideologies. This is the easiest path to transformation and destabilization. Separation between parents and children is not only permitted, but encouraged.”

Senator Sonya Halpern said she does not believe the bill is intended to protect children but could instead isolate them from the people they might encounter in the real world.

“If you refuse to talk about the things that actually happen in other children’s lives, then how do we create children who can go out into the world that goes far beyond the four walls of their home and their parents, and in the “They’re able to engage with the larger world when it’s their time,” the Atlanta Democrat said.

Gwinnett County mother Jordan Black said one of her children was the first child to make the transition at his school, a difficult task that would become even more difficult with the introduction of SB 88.

“If teachers in Georgia are unable to handle my child the way he is, my child will go to school isolated and afraid,” she said.

“When you segregate a population as this bill does, the result is nothing short of the dehumanization of the children this bill targets,” she added.

Acworth Republican Sen. Ed Setzler expressed concerns about some of the lessons Hudson described, but said he wasn’t sure whether the state should intervene.

“My starting point is that there is no way this legislature should be mandating private schools to do anything beyond the bare minimum, which is that four and a half hours of instruction in these basic core subjects must be accredited and so on.”

Setzler said he could be persuaded to support the bill if the schools’ actions rose to the level of fraud, otherwise parents could simply take their money and their children elsewhere.

“To me, parents should say, ‘You know what, I’m dusting myself off.’ These places tricked me with a lie. They said they teach this and they teach that,” he said. “Hell, other parents might choose this school because they want this to be taught. We are a free society. If you want this to be taught, go to these schools. Do it.”

Setzler found support from conservative allies, including the Georgia Baptist Convention and Taylor Hawkins, director of advocacy for the conservative lobbying group Frontline Policy Action.

“We ourselves have pushed a lot of legislation on this issue,” Hawkins said. “However, this bill seeks to address these issues in a way that I believe is not appropriate and that our organization cannot support.” The key point is this: This bill, while not intended to do so, undermines the parental rights enshrined in our law , accepts the indoctrination it seeks to prevent and restricts the government’s ability for private schools to operate free from state coercion.”

Carden still has time to make adjustments. The Legislature is scheduled to convene in January for next year’s session, when this bill or a revised version could get another chance.