Conservative censorship expanded further this weekend with several more states enacting laws limiting free speech in schools and libraries.
In Iowa, a new law was enacted Saturday that prohibits public and charter schools from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation before sixth grade. It also requires schools of any grade to remove any books that reference or depict a “sex act” from libraries or classrooms, which means no sexual education material is allowed in schools, and neither are books like the Diary of Anne Frank or most of Shakespeare, or the Bible. But it won’t be enforced against any of those, only against books centering Black or queer voices. Dangerously, the new law also requires teachers to out students to their parents if they suspect the child might be transgender.
On the same day, Florida put into action a law banning any sex ed before sixth grade, even only about menstruation. Half of all girls begin menstruating before the end of seventh grade, which means most of those girls will reach menarche before their teachers are allowed to speak about it. The law also bans any discussion of gender identity or sexuality in schools.
Again on the same Saturday, new laws in Tennessee went into effect that ban universities and employers from requiring any training on ‘divisive concepts,’ a vague directive that is explicitly aimed to ban diversity training, but can also be used by officials to ban sexual harassment training, or any diversity, equity, or inclusion programs within universities or private companies.
All three states are Republican-led, with GOP majorities in their lawmaking bodies and outspoken right-wing governors. It’s not subtle, the ways they are trying to erode protections and safety nets for the LGBTQ community, especially the children. Conservative censorship aims for removing any discrimination protections next, not just for LGBTQ, but for people of color, people of disability, and any religion but Christianity.