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Are Russia's Anti-Gay Laws All That Different From Texas?

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As the Winter Olympics in Sochi get underway, Texas-based AT&T became the first major sponsor to join a chorus of opposition to Russia's ban on so-called "homosexual propaganda." In another sign of protest, the Obama administration has sent three openly gay athletes as representatives to Sochi.

But American critics of the policy may want to look at what's on the books closer to home, notes Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres. In a commentary for KUT's upcoming daily news magazine Texas Standard, Ayres highlights so-called "no promo homo" rules codified across the U.S. – including Texas. 

(See a map of the states, via the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.)  

Indeed, Texas officially mandates that sexual education classes emphasize that homosexuality is "not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public" and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense (even though criminalizing private consensual homosexual conduct has been unconstitutional in the U.S. since 2003).  Seven other states have similar provisions.

Reeve Hamilton, who covers education for reporting partner The Texas Tribune, says "it's not surprising [many Texans] haven't heard of it" since the provision is seldom enforced.  But Reeve also says he's aware of schools in San Antonio and Edinburg which do follow the mandated policy.  

In the last Texas legislative session, three lawmakers filed  bills that would have removed the language from Texas law, but those efforts stalled – and the provisions remain on the books.

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
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