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TN Senate Committee Advances “Don’t Say Gay” Schools Bill

TN Senate Committee Advances “Don’t Say Gay” Schools Bill

A Tennessee senate committee voted this week to advance a bill that would outlaw mentioning sexuality in schools in any sense except for heterosexuality and marriage. The bill passed amended by a 6-3 vote.

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 went through a number of amendments, not all to Mr. Campfield’s liking.


But when it came before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, contended current law already prohibits such instruction by deeming it a misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the “family life curriculum” adopted by the state Board of Education.

Tracy proposed an amendment to rewrite Campfield’s bill to require the Board of Education to study the issue and determine whether any teaching about homosexuality is occurring and, if so, recommend what should be done about it.


The Tracy amendment passed over Campfield’s objections.

But then Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, proposed to change the Tracy amendment. The revision declares that, after its study to be completed by Feb. 1 of next year, the Board of Education “shall adopt” – as part of the family life curriculum – a ban on discussion of homosexuality in the same language used in Campfield’s bill.

That amendment was adopted, too, and the revised bill was then approved 6-3 and sent to the Senate floor. All no votes came from Democrats.

As previously written on this issue, the Tennessee Board of Education has been consulted on the bill numerous times and has repeatedly said that there is absolutely no need for this legislation given that there are no reported incidents of teachers even discussing sexuality in this way.

In 2009, Campfield said that sexuality is a “complex issue” that he didn’t want confusing Tennessee children “that are already in a difficult part of life.” 

While terming the bill “neutral,” he said: “It doesn’t say we are going to preach against it. We are not going to preach for it,” to which he added that he did not think that the bill was in the slightest bit homophobic. “Homophobic means you’re afraid of something [...] but teaching transgenderism to middle school students [...] I don’t think that’s the road we should go down. I think that’s what parents should be doing.”

One would note that Mr. Campfield is woefully (or willfully) misinformed on what trans identity is and how it is, in fact, nothing to do with sexuality (and therefore would appear exempt from the bill’s scope which only mentions sexuality).

The bill will now head to the Senate floor for a full vote. 

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to McDowell-Craig.

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12:29AM PDT on May 9, 2011

Government is taking away our freedom of speech! We are losing it every single day!

9:45AM PDT on May 2, 2011

And for a real shocker, see Sweden's sex education videos.

9:39AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Wow, so ignorance is the new standard in public education in TN?

3:16AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

@ Ira Henson: Please run for office! You've already got my vote!

9:18PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

@kenny s.: I was not rude, stupid,or insulting. I would never back pedal or retract my values for you or anyone else. Thank you for your kind words. Now go finish your "See Dick run on the Beach" book. It's nice to see illiteracy barriers being broke, but maybe you should come up a few levels before trying to make an intelligent statement with common sense applied.

5:15PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

See Bethany B.
See Bethany B. be rude and insulting.
See Bethany B. be stupid.
See Bethany B. realize she is rude, insulting, and stupid.
See Bethany B. back peddle and retract.

May The Mercy Of jesus Flow Out Upon All Of You ? jeezzzz

3:05PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

This is ridiculous... this kids might as well live in a bubble.

10:39AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

I live in TN, and yes, we do have plumbing, and cars and A/C. We even have a University well known for its college football and women's basketball teams. Unfortunately, we also have lots of wealthy right wingers who do not have anything better to do but to obstruct scientific progress. The governor, Bill Haslam, is a creationist. His Pilot oil company was reported to be guilty of gouging Tennesseans in 2008. We also have plenty of climate deniers, one of them- and this goes to show that not only ignorant men sit in the hallowed chambers of the capitol--actually, a Southern belle named Sheila Butt, believes aqua net would have saved us from global warming. Add to that list the loud mouth birthers we have down here. Oh, but, do not ever claim that this overly conservative Christian state discriminates against women or the downtrodden, because we have a new Republican lawmaker who is mighty proud of where she honed her political savvy---the prestigious institution of Hooter's. Yep, that one. But, then again, we also have one who refers to illegal immigrants as "rats" who multiply. Oh, and yeah, there's that lawmaker who does not want mosques built anywhere close by, and new plaintiffs who say that mosques would be emotionally distressing. Isn't this such an enlightened state? Scopes monkey trial, anyone?

9:33AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

What fools elected these bible banging narrow minded idiots into office. And do all these GOP males have nothing better to do that concern themselves with what sex education is taught in school. I thought they were elect to get jobs moving again, instead they are handing everthing to the wealthy who are still shipping all the jobs overseas in droves.

8:30AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

Look, You are all the ones taking all my statements out of context because of Your Own Bigotry. I NEVER said sex was "only" for creation, I Said "primary" (1st reason). Our sex lives are Personal, I never said God would not want us to "enjoy" sex. It is a Gift, not something to be desecrated. Furthermore, I never said for "you all" to go back in a closet, or to "never" say the word gay. I Said, "Let parents teach their kids about ALL sexuality in their Home !". Remember when most of us were kids, and the boys went off in a group, as did the girls, and we all watched a movie? It explained our "personal" changes that we all would experience. That's It ! No talk about hetero, or gay feelings. This talk of bias is BS. You are the worst name callers ever.... GOD LOVES ALL OF US, let's just HOPE that We All LOVE and SERVE HIM TOO. May the MERCY of JESUS Flow Out Upon All of You. That statement should show my intolerance for you..... right?(sac) Like talking to a wall.......

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