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.