Activists in South Carolina have filed a lawsuit against the state’s superintendent of education over a law banning any mention of LGBT+ people in health classes unless it’s related to sexually transmitted diseases.
The state’s 1988 Comprehensive Health Education Act, which is still in place, states that health classes “may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases”.
It also dictates that any teacher who has violated the law will be “subject to dismissal”.
While the law was created in 1988, it was amended in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and each time the section banning the discussion of “homosexual relationships” was retained.
According to WCSC, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, which includes the Campaign for Southern Equality and the South Carolina Equality Coalition, announced on Wednesday, February 26, that they had filed the lawsuit against Molly Spearman, the superintendent for education in South Carolina.
Executive director of South Carolina Equality Jeff Ayers said: “It had the express and singular purpose of voicing moral disapproval of non-heterosexual people, and it serves no state purpose at all.
“This statute attempts to, at best ignore, and at worst to completely stigmatise young people who identify as LGBTQ in South Carolina and it must be struck down.”
Peter Renn, counsel for Lambda Legal which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Gender and Sexuality Alliance, said: “This discriminatory law is archaic, outrageous, and profoundly damaging to LGBTQ students, treating them as pariahs.
“It should come as no surprise that where the government stigmatises a group of students as ‘unmentionable’, it risks breeding a school environment hostile to LGBTQ students, with more harassment and abuse in classrooms, hallways, and locker rooms.”
South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson released an opinion letter in which he said he agreed with the lawsuit’s claim that the 1988 Comprehensive Health Education Act was unconstitutional, violating the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.