WATCH: Wisconsin State Rep. asks if Harvey Milk is “a real person?”

Wisconsin State Rep. Donna Rozar
Wisconsin State Rep. Donna Rozar (Photo: Twitter)

A Wisconsin State Rep. demonstrated her own lack of knowledge of LGBTQ history yesterday in a debate about whether parents can withdraw their kids from school LGBTQ-related lessons.

Republican lawmakers this week introduced legislation (AB 562). It seeks to allow parents to remove their children from lessons that touch upon sexuality or gender.

One of the bill’s authors is Republican Rep. Donna Rozar, (R-Marshfield). She also wants schools to notify parents in advance if they’re going to talk about these subjects.

Related: Harvey Milk Day and San Francisco’s monuments to an LGBTQ icon

The bill was introduced Wednesday and a public hearing took place in the Assembly Education Committee at the state Capitol yesterday.

Rozar was among those to speak.

“I believe that there are very subtle things that occur in public and charter schools that tend to normalize behaviors that are in conflict with some students’ families’ belief systems,” she said.

“Students are exposed to things maybe at a very young age in an attempt to undermine a family value belief system that is detrimental to what parents and guardians are trying to teach their children. It’s those subtleties that need to be more transparent.”

Among those to question Rozar was Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope of Cross Plains. She asked if Rozar wanted schools to notify parents if they intended to talk about Harvey Milk.

Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk, 1978 (Photo: Ted Sahl, Kat Fitzgerald, Patrick Phonsakwa, Lawrence McCrorey, Darryl Pelletier, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Milk, the famed gay, San Francisco council member, was assassinated in 1978. He has subsequently been featured on a US postage stamp, had a navy boat named after him, and been the subject of an Oscar-winning biopic, among other memorials.

Related: SF Gay Men’s Chorus gather for first time in 15 months to mark Harvey Milk Day

“I’m not familiar… is that a real person?” responded Rozar with an awkward laugh. “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with him.”

Watch the exchange below.

Opponents of the legislation spoke out in favor of all children being taught about sexuality.

“I came from a family with very, very conservative beliefs. I did not know that being gay was an option for me, I didn’t know it wasn’t just this evil cabal of people scheming to take down the world because that’s what my parents told me,” Madeline Doon of Sun Prairie said, reports Milwaukee Journal.

“It’s just … really important that kids get this information. It causes a lot of trauma that I’m still working through. Trying to suppress these voices really hurts real people. It’s probably going to affect me for the rest of my life.”

Some GOP supporters of the bill said it would still allow LGBTQ content to be taught, but would just allow parents the choice to remove their children if they desired.

The Department of Public Instruction registered against the bill but did not testify. However, in a statement, State Superintendent Jill Underly said, “Make no mistake, they know exactly what they are doing: using our children as pawns in a culture war.

“They will not win in the long term, but they will hurt our students, our educators, and our democratic principles in the process. I call on the leaders of the legislature to slow down and to instead prioritize the safety and in-person education of our children.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Tony Evers (D) told Milwaukee Journal he will not sign the bill if it is passed.