Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield appeared on CNN this week to defend legislation he authored that would ban mention of sexuality in schools through to K-8 except for heterosexual marriage, insisting in the interview that his legislation is entirely neutral.
Campfield went on to say the legislation is designed to stop people pushing their various “agendas” in schools and that it is necessary so that “families [can] handle that issue.”
When asked what was the inspiration behind the bill, Campfield responded: “Well, you can look around the nation, you see the things that are happening and the different agendas that people are pushing, one way or the other. And I just decided, you know, listen, let’s leave it up to the families to decide when something is age appropriate, when it isn’t age appropriate. When those children are ready to talk about those issues, let’s leave it up to the families how they want to handle that issue.”
“My bill is neutral. It doesn’t say anybody can speak for it or against it. So, I’m sure people wouldn’t want someone coming out and saying, you know, there are some people who say, you know, we should be preaching against it and saying it’s evil, dirty and wrong, or some people say hey, it’s great, wonderful thing.”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he added. “Like I said, I think we need to let the families decide that.”
While he may be touting his bill as neutral to the mainstream press, Campfield, who has sponsored the bill in five previous sessions, likened being gay to bestiality during a 2009 interview with Sirius XM’s Michelangelo Signorile.
Senate Bill 49 and counterpart measure House Bill 229 sponsored by state Senator Stacey Campfield and Representative Bill Dunn respectively, both Republicans from Knoxville, prohibits “the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8.”
The bill passed a senate committee vote by 6-3 las week and is awaiting a Senate floor vote. This comes despite the Tennessee Board of Education once again reminding legislators that there is no recorded instance of any problem relating to discussion of sexuality in schools through to K-8 and that due to the existing “family orientated” curriculum in Tennessee schools, a focus on heterosexual marriage and the nuclear family is already in place.
Critics have warned the bill could have a chilling effect on children being able to confide in teachers should they have questions or concerns around sexuality and gender identity and may even stifle bullying prevention related to LGBT identity.
Mr. Campfield has previously said that the bill must be put in place to protect kids from being confused should they hear about topics like “transgenderism” — this is something his bill would not appear to cover though, given that it focuses solely on sexuality.
For previous coverage of this bill, please click here.