On Wednesday, Republican Missouri House member Zachary Wyatt came out and encouraged lawmakers to withdraw support on the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill (HB2051 which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools).
The Associated Press reported that Rep. Zachary Wyatt, a 27-year-old cattle farmer from the rural northern Missouri town of Novinger, said the legislation motivated him to reveal his sexual orientation publicly for the first time.
“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality,” Wyatt said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “I am still the same person that I was when I woke up this morning and I will be the same person when I go to bed tonight. Today I ask you to stand with me as a proud Republican, a proud veteran and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids addressing bullying in our schools.”
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A spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that backs LGBT candidates, said Wyatt is the only openly gay Republican in the nation who is currently serving in a state legislature. However, Wyatt is not running for re-election in Missouri, as he plans to move to Hawaii and study marine biology.
But, “Don’t Say Gay” bill appears unlikely to pass before the session ends on May 18. It was referred to a House education committee last month and has not received a hearing. The legislation has generated attention and controversy.
The lawmakers at Wednesday’s news conference called for the sponsor of the bill to withdraw the legislation at Wednesday’s news conference. However, Rep. Steve Cookson said he would not do that. Cookson, a Republican from the rural southern Missouri town of Fairdealing, said he believes parents and family members, not schools, should teach children about different kinds of sexuality.
“Those are personal issues that probably should be taught by people outside the school system,” he said. “We need to be focusing on what is going to provide students with the skills they need to be productive citizens in our society.”