"Don't say gay" bill filed in Tennessee legislature

State Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland Bunch and Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) have filed a bill in the Tennessee senate and house that would prohibit the discussion of gay or bisexual matters in any public or elementary school.

It is a repeat of legislation that was filed last year. That legislation was defeated at the committee level.

The bill, SB1250/HB0821, prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10.

“Thanks again, gentlemen, for attempting to erase our existence,” said Tennessee Equality President Christopher Sanders. “No matter how unspeakable you think the love that dare not speak its name is, it's not going away. And it's going to get talked about, and honest curricula in science, health, social studies, and literature will deal with it as part of the overall subject matter.”

In an interview last year with WTVF NewsChannel 5, Campfield said school systems did not need to be teaching about “topics that need to be taught at home.”

"We're not going to teach about topics that I think should be taught at home in the first place,” Campfield said. “We're not going to teach about homosexuality, the homosexual lifestyle, the lesbian lifestyle, the transgendered lifestyle. We're going to leave that up to families to decide when its age appropriate, when it isn't appropriate, and what they want to tell their children."

Sanders said the move by the Republican lawmakers was embarrassing and “an attack on the spirit of education.” He said it would be one of the issues that constituents would talk about during Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Last year in the interview with WTVF NewsChannel 5, Campfield said his classroom idea doesn't have a pro-gay or anti-gay slant. He said it's more middle of the road and that the GLBT community should thank him for protection.

"There could be a teacher out there who is preaching, or teaching, against, against the lifestyle…saying how terrible, rotten, evil it is. And what this bill would do is say, that teacher has to be quiet just as much," Campfield told Channel 5.

Sanders said the legislation would prevent honest discussions about current issues.

“So middle school students won't be allowed to discuss the battles over marriage when they're learning to write essays,” he asked. “Are we going to encourage them to stop reading the news?”

The legislation, as written reads:

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, relative to education.

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-1005, is amended by adding
the following as new subsection (c) and by relettering the existing subsection (c) accordingly:
(c)(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of certain subjects that are
best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is an immensely complex
subject with enormous societal, scientific, psychiatric and historical implications that are
best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp such issues.
(2) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall
provide any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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