Tennessee State Representative Bill Dunn has gone on record saying that he will hold off until 2012 to push legislation in the House that would ban mention of human sexuality other than heterosexual coupling and marriage in school classes through K-8.
State Rep. Bill Dunn says he will not pursue passage in the House this year of a bill to prohibit discussion of homosexuality in school classrooms until the ninth grade, but Sen. Stacey Campfield says he will push ahead in the Senate.
Dunn, also a Knoxville Republican, said he is supportive of the legislation, but it is too late in the legislative session to launch a push for passage of the measure while he is sponsoring several other controversial bills. In the House, the first step toward passage would have been an approval by the House Education Subcommittee, which has closed for the year.
“Stacey waited awfully late to get started,” said Dunn.
“That’s all right with me,” said Campfield. “He always said, ‘You pass it first, then I’ll pass it.’ So, I’ll pass it this year and he can pass it next year.”
Campfield said he is optimistic about chances for passage of the bill, which has been rescheduled for a Senate floor vote … Thursday.
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 recent senate committee vote by 6-3.
The legislation has caused a great deal of controversy, with critics saying the bill is anti-gay and may hamper efforts to combat anti-LGBT bullying. Campfield once likened homosexuality to bestiality, something critics say shows the anti-gay animus behind the bill.
Sen. Campfield, who as a Representative tried unsuccessfully to pass the bill in the House for the previous 6 years, has denied the legislation is anti-gay, saying it is designed to stop people pushing their various “agendas” in schools and that it is necessary so that “families [can] handle that issue.”
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.
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