LGBTQ people face being 'erased' in Michigan schools thanks to right-wing group's legal loophole
Sad gay man (Shutterstock)

A right-wing group thinks it has hit upon a legal loophole that it can use to force Michigan public schools to "erase" any sign of openly LGBTQ people from classrooms, reported Judd Legum for his Popular Information blog on Monday.

"The effort, organized by the Great Schools Initiative (GSI), seeks to exploit a Michigan statute that allows parents to opt their children out of sex education," reported Legum. "Michigan law allows schools to offer courses in sex education. The nature of this instruction is quite traditional" — stressing the benefits of abstinence alongside the other course information — "Nevertheless, the law also allows students or parents to request to be excused from sex education classes. Schools must grant any such request 'without penalty or loss of academic credit.'"

GSI, however, wants to take the language of this law and use it to allow parents to "opt out" students not just from courses on sex education, but on any incidental appearance of LGBTQ identity anywhere in the school — even something as simple as a teacher wearing a Pride pin.

"Among other things, parents who sign the GSI form, demand their children are not exposed to: Teachers, staff, or administrators, displaying or distributing sexuality/gender paraphernalia like LGBTQ+ flags, or gay pride stickers; Teaching, lessons, or discussions in gender/sexuality social justice or gender/sexuality activism; Use, instruction, discussion, or teaching of gender-neutral bathrooms; [or] Access to books/materials in the classroom libraries with references to non-biological gender identities or storylines containing any type of non-heterosexual relationships, and/or explicit sexual activities of any kind."

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The form even demands students be opted out of "Schoolwide activities that teach, discuss, or promote concepts about gender or sexual identities, gender or sexual expression, or other gender concepts such as LGBTQ+ Pride Week" — which would make it functionally impossible for schools to hold the event at all, even for students who did not opt out.

According to Legum, the leaders of GSI are openly boasting this would make it impossible for openly LGBTQ people to even exist in schools; a Zoom meeting they held had co-founder Nathan Pawl saying the opt-out demands would be "be too much for [schools] to handle" and the only way to comply would be "to transform our schools." They also stated they expect many schools not to comply, at which point they would drown the schools in lawsuits to force their hand — and they are working with the Thomas More Society, a far-right legal group that tried to sue to have the 2020 presidential election thrown out.

All of this comes as Republicans seek to purge LGBTQ acceptance material from schools all around the country. This has come to a head in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis' "Stop WOKE Act" has forced schools to empty entire classrooms of books pending approval by officials.