JEFFERSON CITY – Several Missouri Baptist legislators are getting static for their convictions after co-sponsoring a bill to eliminate sexual orientation from the curriculum in public schools.
“I have been getting a lot of calls, mostly from homosexuals,” said Rep. Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi, where he is a member of First Baptist Church.
“They’re telling me what a horrible person I am for even signing on. [I think] everybody should have signed onto that bill.”
Fitzwater was a Sunday School teacher at Potosi First Baptist for 18 years and a public school health teacher for 29 years. He said the schools do not need to be teaching sexuality to kids.
“That’s something parents are responsible for. We’ve gone way overboard with that. It took a lot of courage for Rep. (Steve) Cookson to bring that bill forward. I was proud of him. I was proud to sign onto it.”
Rep. Charlie Denison, R-Springfield, at first said he hadn’t gotten as much flak as some of the others but changed his tune later as emails and calls began to reach his office.
Denison is a member of Second Baptist Church, Springfield.
“It’s hard for me to understand why the bill itself is causing the folks to rise up like this because I don’t see that it’s bashing the gays or directed toward the gays, other than the sexual orientation,” he said.
“I need someone to explain to me what I’m seeing in the emails I’m getting right now. They’re saying it is trying to do away with any conversations at all about gays. I don’t think this is going to do away with free speech at all.”
Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, a member of Crosshaven Church, said he had received some hate mail from the homosexual community, but not much.
He believes that school is not the place for talking about sexuality, whether it is homosexuality or heterosexuality. “It is not appropriate academic learning.”
Bahr was surprised at the media attention.
“I’ve gotten more criticism over this bill than a more controversial bill I filed. This one is getting a hearing in the community. The other bill … not a peep from the media.”
Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said he has been getting positive as well as negative mail regarding the bill.
“When they understand what the bill truly says, people are for it,” he commented.
“We don’t believe it is necessary to allow our kids to be indoctrinated with sexual orientation. We don’t believe it needs to be addressed.”
Schatz is a member of Temple Baptist Church, Sullivan.
Rep. Mike McGhee, R-Odessa, is a member of First Baptist Church there. He has received a large amount of mail as well as comments from some of his colleagues.
“They are disappointed in me in not only being in favor of this legislation but being a co-sponsor,” McGhee said.
“I don’t see that I am doing anything to hurt anyone by only teaching the facts of life.
“Twenty-five percent of the money that comes into the state goes to public schools. What is taught should only be the truth. I want the revenue that comes from my constituents to teach the facts, not what somebody believes or any type of orientation.”