Missouri House of Representatives member Zachary Wyatt announced that he would not seek reelection this year. It is now clearer why he took that position. Initially, Wyatt stated that he was going to Hawaii to study Marine biology. However, Wyatt has had a secret that he has now revealed. Wyatt, a Republican, is gay.
“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality. It has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it. I didn’t even think about it or want to talk about it. I’ve not been immune to it. I hear the comments, usually snide ones, about me.
“I am not the first or last Republican to come out. I have just gotten tired of the bigotry being shown on both sides of the aisle on gay issues. Being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue, and it should never be,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt was prompted to announce his sexual orientation because of HB 2051. Known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, HB 2051 would forbid any discussion of homosexuality at the elementary or secondary school level. As the bill states, it would only allow discussion or materials that deal with sexual reproduction. Since gay and lesbians relationships can’t produce children, the mention of either is expressly forbidden in HB 2051:
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.
For Wyatt, this was a step too far. Wyatt felt that many confused teens are not going to find the help to let them adjust as they learn their sexuality.
The sponsor of the bill, Steve Cookson, said that the opponents of the bill are misunderstanding its true intent.
“In a time when our public schools continue to struggle financially, we want their focus to be solely on core education issues such as math, science and reading; and not on topics that are better left for discussion in the home at the discretion of parents,” Cookson said.
If Cookson’s intent is to promote math and reading, he should probably have added those words to the bill. The bill does mention science but only in the context that sexual orientation can only be discussed as it pertains to sexual reproduction. If Cookson’s real intent is science, math and reading, he should focus on that and not sexual orientation.
Wyatt called the bill “horrible,” and lamented that he followed the Republican leadership in opposing past bills about bullying and discrimination. Wyatt stated that he wanted to act as a leader now and put a stop to HB 2051 so that he could prevent any kids “from hurting themselves or taking their life.”
Too bad Wyatt only felt comfortable to come out as gay after he announced that he was not seeking reelection. Yet by taking a public position now, he does make it a it easier for other closeted politicians to eventually take the risks of letting their sexuality become public.