MONTGOMERY — The House Education Policy Committee voted on Wednesday to advance a bill that would prohibit instruction of gender identity or sexual orientation in public K-12 schools while voting down an amendment that relates to the recent Space Camp controversy.

House Bill 130 (HB130), sponsored by State Rep. Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City), would expand the state’s prohibition of the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-5 classrooms to K-12 classrooms.

Earlier this month, Alabama lawmakers and thousands of others responded to reports from Huntsville-based Clay Yarbrough, who learned that Molly Bowman, a biological male who identifies as a female, would be working in the overnight camp he planned to send his daughter.

Yarbrough included several screenshots from Bowman's social media, which was filled with hyper-sexual commentary.

The responses varied, with many showing disgust for the Space Camp and others supporting Bowman, saying he did nothing wrong.

Butler joined other lawmakers in suggesting a legislative fix, saying he would add an amendment to HB130 to address the issue.

In Wednesday’s committee hearing, HB130 was amended, barring the display of a flag or other insignia relating to or representing sexual orientation or gender identity in a classroom or school grounds.

State Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Birmingham) asked how the bill’s provisions would be enforced. Butler responded by stating that the school would ultimately be in charge of enforcement, and there is no penalty attached to the legislation.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) inquired about the motivation for the flag amendment. Butler said a “group of moms” from “all over” expressed concern over pride flags in classrooms.

“We keep continuing to try to pass laws on isolated incidents when there’s a local school board there,” Daniels said. “When the local school board has jurisdiction over that particular school system and can set all the rules and policies, and now we’re taking something from an isolated incident and applying, making it applicable to the entire state of Alabama, which is problematic for me.”

State Rep. Mark Gidley (R-Hokes Bluff) then introduced an amendment that would apply the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to Space Camp and other youth science programs.

House Education Policy Committee chairwoman Terri Collins (R-Decatur) said she had “concerns about calling out one institution when we have camps and things all over.” Daniels and Drummond also shared her sentiments.

“Hopefully, this will send the message that it’s inappropriate for the instructors, the teachers, to teach sexual orientation and gender identity,” Butler said.

The Committee held a voice vote on the amendment, which ultimately failed.

The final version of the legislation passed without the Space Camp amendment. It will now go to the House floor for a full vote.

The committee held a public hearing on the legislation two weeks ago before lawmakers took the week off.

The Alabama GOP, Moms For Liberty, Eagle Forum and the Alabama Policy Institute supported the bill. Several residents from across the state spoke against it, as did several Democratic lawmakers on the committee.

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