Tennessee lawmaker files bill to quell free speech in public schools

Representative Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has filed a bill in the Tennessee House of Representatives that would outlaw any discussion or free speech about homosexuality or bisexuality in any public elementary or middle school.

The move has left local equality leaders scratching their heads.

“We wouldn’t have expected something like this,” said Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) President Christopher Sanders. “Since it was filed we have to take it seriously. It shows the absurdity the far right will go. The bill would compromise the very purpose of education and would inhibit the free speech rights of Tennesseans.”

Sanders said the move reminds the GLBT community to "be ready to fight these sorts of things” even though he’s not sure the bill will have much traction.

Campfield has a history of odd proposals. He has in the past proposed to replace the state’s tax on food with a tax on pornography and last year wanted the state to require death certificates for abortions.

The full wording of the House Bill 2997 is as follows:

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

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

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) 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.

Notwithstanding law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall permit

any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.

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

it.

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