Lambda Legal is launching an online campaign against anti-LGBT curriculum laws, or so-called “no promo homo” laws. We’re calling it #DontEraseUs, because that’s exactly what these laws are about: erasing our existence.
These laws restrict or prohibit the discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues in the classroom. The laws are sometimes informally called “no promo homo” laws, because they reflect the erroneous belief that curriculum that is inclusive of all people somehow “promotes” being gay.
Some of the laws affirmatively require schools to portray LGBT people in a negative light. Others prohibit schools from portraying LGBT people in a positive light. And some prohibit even the discussion of LGBT people in certain curriculum. There are at least eight states (Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah) with these deeply stigmatizing laws.
It’s fitting that we’re launching this campaign on World AIDS Day, because most of these laws were passed in the late ’80s and early ’90s, following the AIDS panic that gripped this country. Arizona’s law, for example, outlaws teachers from “suggest[ing] that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex” in instruction on HIV/AIDS. It also prohibits portraying gay people in a positive light.
We must stand up against these efforts to wipe away the accurate portrayal of LGBT people. Discrimination has no place in any lesson plan. It’s difficult to see how students will view each other as equals if the very existence of LGBT is treated as “unmentionable” in the classroom, which is a formula for harassment and disrespect.