Although the Supreme Court invalidated Alabama’s criminal law against same-sex conduct in 2003, the state’s schools still haven’t gotten the memo.
Reporting last month’s official repeal of a Utah state law provision that prohibited the “advocacy of homosexuality” in public schools, Human Rights Watch points out that a similar law remains on the books in Alabama.
This Alabama law currently requires that public school course materials related to sexuality education include an “emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
These stigmatizing “no promo homo” laws, according to GLSEN, are “local or state education laws that expressly forbid teachers from discussing gay and transgender issues (including sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness) in a positive light—if at all. Some laws even require that teachers actively portray LGBT people in a negative or inaccurate way.”
HRW suggests that the archaic laws prevent students from getting factual and accurate information about LGBT issues, particularly as they relate to government, psychology, literature, and sex ed.
Meanwhile, teachers fear that if they introduce such diversity into their curriculum, they risk backlash from litigious parents or administrators. The “no promo homo” laws also prevent teachers from intervening in anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
Repeated efforts to erase these laws from Alabama’s books have failed.