House Speaker Continues To Stall Bill Banning Gender, Sexual Orientation Teaching For Grades K-3

House Speaker Albert Sommers has sat on a bill for 25 days that would bar public school teachers in Wyoming from teaching gender identity and sexual orientation to children. An attempt to maneuver around the speaker failed by a vote of 34-27 on Wednesday.

Clair McFarland

February 22, 20232 min read

Sommers and Ward 2 22 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Wyoming House speaker for 25 days has stalled a bill that would bar public school teachers in the state from teaching gender identity and sexual orientation themes through the third grade.

Rep. Jeanette Ward, R-Casper, on Tuesday tried to go around House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, to revive Senate File 117, the Parental Rights In Education Act, and have it assigned to the House Agriculture Committee. But the House rejected that motion by a vote of 34-27.   

“Our constituents have been asking us what the status is,” said Ward. “The issue of parental rights in education is clearly prominent in our time.”  

Sommers cut Ward off, saying it wasn’t the appropriate juncture to discuss the merits of the bill, but rather to explain why she believed suspending the rules would be proper.   

“We’re not going to debate that,” he told Ward on Tuesday. “We’re just going to talk about (the fact that) it’s been in my desk for so many days.”   

Chamber debate on the gesture was not allowed by the rules, according to legislative testimony.

Sommers did not respond Wednesday by publication time to texts and a phone call by Cowboy State Daily.      

Hot Button Bill

In addition to forbidding the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to young students, Senate File 117 also would have required schools to inform parents of changes to their children’s mental, emotional or physical health, and of the school’s treatment of that child based on those factors.   

After the third grade, teachers only could discuss those themes in an “age appropriate” manner set by the Wyoming Board of Education.    

SF 117 mirrors Florida’s bill by the same name, which became law in that state.   

Bill proponents say it sends ideological and sexually charged discussions back into the home rather than allowing indoctrination in schools. 

Bill opponents have nicknamed the bill “Don’t Say Gay,” and argue it embargoes speech and fair treatment toward students or teachers living LGBTQ lifestyles or in nontraditional families.    

The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 4-1, then 18-12-1 in its third reading on the Senate floor before moving to the House. 

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter