Resource: Anti-Gay Curriculum Laws

By: Clifford Rosky

January 1, 2017

Colum. L. Rev.

Since the Supreme Court's invalidation of anti-gay marriage laws, scholars and advocates have been debating the LGBT movement's near-term strategies and priorities. This Article joins that conversation by developing the framework for a national campaign to repeal or invalidate anti-gay curriculum laws-statutes that prohibit or restrict the discussion of homosexuality in public schools. Anti-gay curriculum laws expose LGBT students to stigmatization and bullying and they are far more prevalent than scholars and advocates have recognized. In the existing literature, these provisions are called "no promo homo" laws and are said to exist in only a handful of states. Based on a comprehensive survey of federal and state law, this Article shows that anti-gay provisions exist in the curriculum laws of twenty states and in a federal law that governs the annual distribution of $75 million for abstinence education programs. Grounded in moral disapproval and anti-gay animus, these laws plainly violate the Constitution's equal protection guarantees under the Supreme Court's landmark rulings in Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor v. United States, and Obergefell v. Hodges. Yet federal and state officials will retain the legal authority to enforce these laws unless and until courts enjoin them from doing so. Challenging anti-gay curriculum laws is a necessary and important step toward establishing the legal equality of LGBT people and creating a safe environment for LGBT students in the nation's public schools.