State Senator Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn, two Republican lawmakers from Knoxville, are cosponsoring a bill that would make discussing homosexuality in Tennessee schools illegal. And they say there’s never any good gay news!
The bill is being simultaneously introduced to the State Senate and House under the names Senate Bill 4 and House Bill 229, but has taken on the much more soundbite-friendly name, the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” Let’s call a spade a spade, after all.
Supporters of the bill claim its goal is to focus sexual education on age appropriate material, by banning the discussion of anything other than heterosexuality outright. How exactly does this assist children in their sexual education? Gay students are already gay students regardless of whether or not you choose to discuss it with them.
Providing gay students with heterosexual-only sex education simply fails to equip a significant portion of the student body with safe sex practices, and leaves them susceptible to sexually transmitted infections like HIV. Is that maybe the point? To leave LGBT students vulnerable to illness and death? This may sound dramatic, but the stakes are absolutely that high with this bill.
“The Don’t Say Gay bill raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free speech and government overreach,” said Ben Byers with the Tennessee Equality Project.
The group recently received $10,000 from the Human Rights Campaign to fight what they consider negative legislation in Tennessee, including HB 229.
“It limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom,” Byers said. “It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”
Preventing children with same-sex parents from discussing their families? Banning gay students from discussing their own thoughts and feelings? Sounds like a fantastic idea, Tennessee!
In all seriousness, folks – Learning about gay health, history & discrimination cannot make you gay. Just like the absence of knowledge on those issues cannot make you straight. A significant number of Tennessee students are already gay and lesbian, and they deserve to be acknowledged and prepared for the real world outside of their lockers and classrooms just like their peers. Sex education, let alone simply being allowed to say the word GAY, is an important part of that preparation schools are expected to provide.
Get over it, Tennessee, and do NOT make this homophobic and dangerous bill into law. What are you – Georgia?