Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 18, 2023

The ACLU of Wyoming opposes Senate File 117, legislation that would ban classroom discussions related to sexual orientation and gender identity in Wyoming’s public schools.

The government censorship bill, which closely mirrors Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that was signed into law last year and is currently being challenged in federal court, would silence students from speaking about their LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit family members, friends and neighbors and would create costly new liabilities for school districts. Under the bill, any parent who thinks that a classroom discussion was inappropriate or who is unsupportive of a district’s policies would be given broad powers to sue for damages and attorneys’ fees.

“This is a dangerous bill that wrongfully censors students’ and teachers’ right to free speech. It is always appropriate for kids to talk about themselves, their experiences and their families. These are not taboo subjects, but banning them makes them seem so,” said Antonio Serrano, ACLU of Wyoming advocacy director. “The government should never be in the business of passing censorship bills, especially those that harm our kids. Children should not have to hide their identities in a place where they should feel safe to be themselves: Wyoming schools.”

Additionally, the overly broad language of Senate File 117 could create dangerous confusion about what teachers, staff and students are allowed to say and study in school. It will limit teachers’ ability to give students the education and support they need, and it will foster an information vacuum that further endangers already-vulnerable young people.

“Senate File 117 also could stop teachers from responding to anti-LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit bullying or harassment,” Serrano said. “The vague language makes it unclear when standing up for students would mean breaking the law. Wyomingites must not allow the government to suppress First Amendment rights in the classroom without a fight.”

About the ACLU of Wyoming

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of Wyoming is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and South Dakota. The team in Wyoming is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of Wyoming carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of Wyoming.