Missouri state representative Ann Kelley was left red-faced when fellow Republican Phil Christofanelli quizzed her over the language in her anti-LGBTQ+ school bill.
The legislation – which is effectively an imitation of Florida’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – would see “sexual orientation and gender identity” banned from all classrooms in Missouri.
HB634 was challenged over its broad and overarching language in a now-viral clip in which Kelley is unable to answer basic questions about the bill, of which she is the only sponsor.
After reading out the section on gender identity, Christofanelli asked his colleague who Martha Washington is.
Kelley paused before stating she was the wife of George Washington, to which Christofanelli questioned how this could be mentioned in a classroom if her bill were to take effect.
“So, to me, that’s not sexual orientation,” she responded as audible murmurs could be heard from the viewing gallery behind her.
Christofanelli then said: “Really? So it’s only really certain sexual orientations that you want prohibited from introduction in the classroom?”
Kelley then asked her fellow lawmaker if he had any suggestions about how to improve the broad language of the bill.
“Lady, I didn’t introduce your bill and I didn’t write it,” he swiftly told her.
“You wrote it, and so I’m asking you what it means – which sexual orientations do you believe should be prohibited from Missouri classrooms?”
MO State Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R) criticizes fellow GOP Rep. Ann Kelley's anti-LGBT school bill.
PC: Who is Martha Washington?
AK: [George Washington's] wife.
PC: With your bill, how could that be mentioned in the classroom?
AK: That's not sexual orientation.
PC: Really? pic.twitter.com/3usn7LUg6Q
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) March 6, 2023
After an awkward moment of silence, Kelley explained that her “moral compass” is “compared with the Bible” – something which Christofanelli pointed out is a direct contradiction to her earlier testimony that she didn’t want the teacher’s personal beliefs entering the classroom.
“But it seems a lot like your personal beliefs, you would like to enter all Missouri classrooms,” he then told her.
Kelley then evaded what he said entirely, instead discussing that moral beliefs can exist without “putting that on to somebody else”.
When asked again whether or not her bill would restrict the mention of Martha Washington in all classrooms, she simply stated: “I don’t know, sir.”
Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills are currently making their way through state legislatures
The bill, which is not expected to get far in the state, is just one of many anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced in the US so far this year.
As of 22 February, the Human Rights Campaign said more than 360 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were making their way through state legislatures.
“We are officially tracking more bills targeting the transgender community than ever before,” it wrote on Twitter. “Over 90 of those anti-trans bills are attempting to ban affirming medical care.”