CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A controversial bill has been introduced in the West Virginia Legislature that would remove certain teachings from public education.
House Bill 2157 proposes eliminating teachings of sexuality and forbidding displays relating to sexuality in public schools.
Bill sponsor, Del. Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha, provided 13 News a statement explaining this measure is what his constituents find important, specifically citing supportive sexuality displays within Kanawha County Schools.
Likewise, another bill sponsor, Del. Joe Jeffries, R-Putnam, posted on Facebook back in 2019, writing that LGBTQ supportive posters at Hurricane High School were a violation of school policy. Del. Dean Jeffries believes parents are the best teachers for children on sexuality.
He provided a statement, remarking “while I care about this proposal, I understand we have a very full agenda with hundreds of bills already introduced…And this is rightfully so, not a top priority.”
Many LGBTQ members believe passing a bill like this is harmful to a community vulnerable to depression and suicide.
“I don’t think that a lot of people in west Virginia are as educated about the transgender community as they should be,” comments Sam Green, a transgender man.
Many West Virginians have mixed feeling regarding the bill. Some say LGBTQ is not political or religious. One viewer remarked, “I don’t think it should be taught. Let kids be kids and keep politics out of school and school teachings.”
Another person said “the legislature seems like it can’t wait to pass laws that make people feel as though something is wrong.”
Delegate Cody Thompson (I – Randolph, 43) released the following statement:
I have many concerns with HB 2157 as it stands. For one schools do not TEACH sexuality. That is not something that you teach. The bill will actually prohibit welcoming displays from student led organizations to proclaim acceptance for all. Many schools around our state have GSA organizations that promote the unification of all students regardless of how they identify. If the students and staff of a school want to make an effort to express that all students are welcomed and loved at the school they should be allowed to. We have heard cries from the far-right about freedom of speech, well this exactly that. I have concerns that this could limit our health teachers from teaching about reproductive health as well. This bill is an unnecessary attack on LGBTQ+ students and their allies. I do not support this bill at all. Young people in high school need to know they’re accepted and loved. Far too many of our students who identify as LGBTQ+ are committing suicide or have those thoughts. I will do everything in my power for them to know they’re accepted and loved, including fighting against this bill.Delegate Cody Thompson
Fairness West Virginia, the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender West Virginians released a statement:
House Bill 2157 is a bad bill that will harm all of our students. It was designed to silence teachers from showing any support to their LGBTQ students, but it’s written so broadly that it would likely also prevent health teachers from talking about teen pregnancy or ways to prevent the spread of STDs.
LGBTQ students of West Virginia face some of the highest rates of bullying and harassment in the entire country. Data from the CDC shows us that 30 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students in West Virginia have attempted suicide in the past year. And about 14 percent have skipped school out of fear for their safety.
Teachers and administrators have a responsibility to ensure that LGBTQ children are safe at school. This bill got started because a teacher from Hurricane High School created a bulletin board to support her LGBTQ students in 2019. Del. Joe Jeffries said at the time that the bulletin board was “political,” but he’s the one playing politics with a teacher’s sincere attempt to protect and support her students from bullying.Fairness West Virginia