Legislation Aims to Ban 'Gay' From School
By Scott Arnold
(With Video - click here to watch this video story at NewsChannel 5.com)
One state lawmaker does not want homosexuality brought up at all in schools.
Rep. Stacey Campfield said he believes the issue of homosexuality can be too complicated for young minds to understand. Campfield filed, the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would essentially ban teachers from talking about the topic.
"I think our teachers need to stick with reading, writing, and arithmetic," Campfield said. "It confuses a lot of children that are already in a difficult part of life, and it's a very complex issue."
Campfield pointed to newspaper articles as examples of where homosexuality was being taught in schools, like a program in Knoxville that contains information on aids, gay and lesbian sex. He said second graders had access to the information.
"Let's take this off the table, lets not talk about this to very young children, I don't see a problem with that," Campfield said.
"I don't think its being taught as curriculum," said Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project.
Sanders said Campfield does not have enough proof that the issue is real, and calls the bill homophobic.
"If you can't mention something, that sends a signal that there is something wrong with it," Sanders said.
"Homophobic means you're afraid of something. I think its a complex issue. This bill is neutral. It doesn't say we are going to preach against it. We are not going to preach for it; we are going to leave it neutral," Campfield said.
Homophobia aside, Sanders said he believes if the bill passes it will infringe on free speech rights in the classroom.
"The problem with this bill is it would have a chilling effect on even being able to discuss the bill itself, and both sides of the bill in an 8th grade class where you are learning to write essays," Sanders said.
In the end, the education committee voted to hold off on voting on the bill Wednesday. They agreed to study the issue for another year.