JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – A Republican Missouri House member has announced publicly that he is gay and called upon GOP leaders to end legislation that would limit discussion of sexual orientation in public schools.
Rep. Zachary Wyatt held a Capitol news conference Wednesday at which he said he was disclosing his sexual orientation for the first time. Wyatt and several other lawmakers denounced a bill that would prohibit teaching, extracurricular activities or materials that discuss sexual orientation unless they relate to the scientific facts about human reproduction.
“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 school,” he said at his news conference.
A number of lawmakers stood by him, including several other openly gay members of the legislature. Senator Jolie Justice (D-Kansas City) used Twitter to show her support for Wyatt. She tweeted that she wis “Proud of my courageous House colleague.”
Wyatt says he has been getting letters of support, which is comforting after what he says were years of snide comments from others. He says he felt he had to come out against this bill because he voted against the non-discrimination act last year.
Wyatt is not running for reelection after his district was drawn away in recent redistricting. He is instead going to Hawaii for graduate school.
The bill appears unlikely to pass before the session ends May 18, but it has generated attention. Comedian Stephen Colbert mocked the Missouri proposal on his television show.
The legislation is sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Cookson, who says he won’t withdraw the bill. It is aimed at cutting out discussion of sexual orientation, which includes counseling and student groups like the Gay Straight Alliance.
Sexual orientation bill is HB2051.
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