Alabama removing anti-gay language from state’s sex ed law

Published 6:09 am Thursday, April 29, 2021

Alabama will remove anti-gay language from the state’s sex education law that for decades said students should be taught that homosexuality is both socially unacceptable and illegal.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the measure Tuesday into law after it was approved by the Alabama Legislature.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, removes a section of the 1992 sex education law that directed that sex education programs should include “an emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of this state.”

The Alabama law will maintain the emphasis on abstinence in sex education. There will be a new requirement for parents to get notification when sexual education or human reproduction will be taught and to request materials.

The measure had been introduced for several years, but did not win final passage until this year.

The Southern Poverty Law Center applauded Ivey for signing the bill.

“Since 1992, state law has required that when sex education is taught in Alabama schools the instruction include language targeting ‘the homosexual lifestyle’ as illegal and immoral. This language is not only legally inaccurate, it encouraged further stigmatization and isolation of LGBTQ students,” Shay Farley, SPLC Action Fund Regional Policy Director, said in a statement.

The section of the 1992 law describing homosexuality as a criminal offense was a reference to the state’s anti-sodomy law, which has since been ruled unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 ruled that such laws were an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional.