I was shocked and dismayed to read that at Tuesday’s hearing on HB 1565, a supporter of this bill, Jay Atkins, was allowed to speak first for 45 minutes and then opponents of the bill were limited to two minutes each (“Law may allow opting out of LGBTQ lessons,” Feb. 26, 2020). HB 1565 would deem LGBTQ content in public schools “inappropriate.” The chair of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, which held this hearing, is Rep. Chuck Basye, who also sponsored the bill.
I am a parent of two children who attend Columbia Public Schools, and I strongly oppose this bill, which would erase LGBTQ individuals and history from the curriculum, contribute to the stigmatization of LGBTQ students and create a discriminatory, noninclusive school environment. That is the opposite of what I want my children to learn and experience in school.
Regardless of whether you support or oppose HB 1565, the process that took place at this so-called hearing was clearly a distortion of the democratic process. The purpose of a public hearing is to allow both supporters and opponents of a bill to be heard. HB 1565 was not given a fair hearing, and the legislators who allowed this to happen are clearly not doing their job of representing the people and upholding the democratic process.
Kim Leon is a resident of Columbia.