Senator Stacey Campfield: A newcomer's perspective

Although I am a recent Tennessee transplant, Senator Stacey Campfield’s varied attempts to pass classroom protection legislation have not been absent from my radar.

Tuesday, during Tennessee Equality Project's 9th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, I reveled in the chance to sit in Campfield’s office with Clergy for Justice to ask questions and listen as he defended his legislation.

Campfield lamented the media portrayal of his bill citing the media moniker “Don’t Say Gay” as one example of how his legislation has been misconstrued. So in all fairness it is important to note that that afternoon Rep. John Ragan had amended the house version of the Classroom Protection Act and Campfield had yet to fully interpret the amendment and apply it to the Senate version … but that is as far as fair goes.

Albert Einstein said that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” While this piece of legislation has seen more costume changes than a Cher farewell tour, it has essentially remained the same in its efforts and although repeatedly failed has been placed up for consideration session and session again.

Some might call that persistence. Some might even say it’s the American Dream to fight for what you believe in but I have to say that (and I think Einstein would agree) it’s become insane.

It’s truly become a circus and Stacey Campfield has become its ringleader. Step right up folks, pay your money and cast your vote because Campfield is dead set on providing you with the greatest show on earth.

Now call it utopian to expect all elected officials to be enlightened and educated beings but when you have fought for something so hard year in and year out, you better have your facts straight and be able to answer any and all questions asked of you. Sadly, during Tuesday’s appointment Campfield could not.

It was obvious from the beginning of the meeting that there would be no budging on either side of the issue but what amazed me were the foolhardy responses given when asked to further elaborate on the legislation’s desired effects.

Campfield boasted that the bill was intended to protect students from already “legally defined instances of abuse”. He also noted that while natural reproduction was the intended discussion for grades K-8, he was making no judgment on what is wrong and what is right.

The problem with Campfield’s logic is that when challenged as to whether he recognizes that discussing one type of sexuality and not others implicitly values one over the other thus validating heteronormative values, Campfield fell to a crutch that only the ignorant would use and copped to asking whether we should teach bestiality in schools as well.

Really? Campfield? Is your argument that two men having sexual intercourse or two women having sexual intercourse is equitable to a person having sexual intercourse with an animal? It seems like you may be the wild one.

But then again, Campfield knows what he is talking about. In fact, “as homosexuality is normalized, suicide rates for that community have increased. Look it up,” Campfield said. Well, 48 hours later I am still looking and would appreciate the source.

Now with the bill’s latest revisions requiring school officials to refer students to qualified professionals, I have to ask where this money is going to come from. If a family or parent cannot afford for their child to see a professional, what good does this legislation do? When pressed about the financial concerns, Campfield was mum.

Without fully fleshing out the argument (quite possibly because of his administrative assistant sticking his head in the door to drop in his two cents), the only conclusion I can come to is that like many of those traveling circuses back in the day this is all smoke and mirrors.

This is where I implore the community at large. I can sit here and chide Campfield in post after post and page after page every single month and you can sit there and comment on every Facebook post mentioning Campfield or roll your eyes after every asinine quote that escapes his lips or we reach out to the people who put Campfield here in the first place.

Remember, despite his tricks, Campfield did not magically appear at the state capital. A community elected this man to represent them in Tennessee and while it may not be your district, sadly, Campfield is representing Tennessee across the nation.

Campfield will face reelection next year. Now is the time to start talking to friends and family members that live in his district because allowing Campfield to remain representing them and Tennessee as a whole is detrimental to our state.

I’m not asking those who live in the 7th District to accept homosexuality (although it would be nice), I’m asking them not to tolerate hate and not to put students’ lives at risk because of it. Don’t buy a ticket to the circus next year; run it out of town … or at least the state capitol.

For more information about Tennessee Equality Project's mission in Tennessee visit their website here.

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