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Lawmaker plans to expand “Don’t Say Gay” bill to Space Camp

An amendment would make it apply to all programs and activities at Space Camp.

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State Rep. Mack Butler, Gadsden, said he has only heard secondhand rumors about the recent uproar over a transgender Space Camp counselor at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

But he’s heard enough that he plans to expand HB130, a bill prohibiting the instruction or discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, to programs at the Space and Rocket Center.

“In this day and time, it’s funny all this stuff that goes on — it’s always the children that seem to be the sacrificial lambs,” Butler said. “You’ve gotta be careful.”

Under current state law, public school teachers cannot lead discussions or instruct on the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity through 5th grade. Butler’s bill had planned to expand that through 12th grade, and the additional amendment would make it apply to all programs and activities at Space Camp.

While introducing the bill in the House Education Policy Committee, Butler said he hoped the bill could “purify the schools just a little bit,” although he said later in the committee meeting that he should not have phrased it that way.

Butler told APR that he has never been to Space Camp and has not been to the Rocket Center since eighth grade, so he doesn’t know whether the programs teach or discuss sexual orientation or gender identity.

“If it’s not happening, then nothing changes,” Butler said.

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Butler said his phone “blew up” Sunday while he was in church as a Facebook post by an Alabama man went viral targeting a transgender employee at the camp.

The post provides no evidence of any wrongdoing by the individual, but shared screenshots from her social media posts unrelated to her job at Space Camp.

APR asked Butler whether the Space and Rocket Center should not employ transgender individuals, which would violate federal anti-discrimination law.

“(Transgenderism) has always been a mental defect; that’s fact — up until Obama came on the scene,” Butler said. “Now all of a sudden it seems to be glorified, or almost encouraged. You can pretend to be whatever you want, but I don’t have to pretend along with you. … I’m concerned about putting someone mentally unstable with children.”

Butler is far from the only politician to jump on the viral story, which has been pushed by far-right influencer Chaya Raichik under the pseudonym Libs of TikTok and far-right Alabama website 1819 News.

U.S. congressmen Dale Strong and Gary Palmer, as well as U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, have all jumped on the attack of the individual and the Rocket Center.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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