In Alabama, a statewide anti-bullying law calls on schools to develop policies that foster environments free of harassment, intimidation and violence.
But for gay students, another state law directly impedes this goal. A different Alabama law calls on health educators to emphasize “that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.”
Alabama is one of seven states that currently has a law barring teachers from positively portraying homosexuality in schools. These laws, sometimes called “no promo homo” laws, affect nearly 10 million public school students around the country. They work to decrease teachers’ support of these students and limit students’ access to necessary resources, according to a research brief released Tuesday from GLSEN, a nonprofit that works to support LGBTQ students.
These laws range in severity. Some ban educators from broadly portraying homosexual people in a positive light. Others specifically call on educators to omit information or resources that would benefit gay students. In Arizona, when teaching about AIDS, health educators cannot include portrayals of “homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style” or suggest “that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex,” a law says.
Utah had one of these laws up until July, when it was repealed, but information from the state is still included in the study. Texas, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi still have these laws. The anti-gay laws in these states operate alongside anti-bullying statutes, which all 50 states have.