The state Representative championing Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is said to be holding back the legislation for the next three weeks in order to clear up some issues that the revised bill has raised.
The legislation would originally have banned all mention of sexuality in K-8. The amended bill as passed by the Senate aims to reduce that reach, confining teachers to talking about sexuality only in terms of ”natural human reproduction science.” However, the bill has offered no explanation of what that should mean. Does it, for instance, ban mention of IVF treatment? And does it effectively allow for sex education for K-8 students?
Representative Joey Hensley of Hohenwald told the Associated Press he will not back off from the legislation despite concerns from GOP leaders.
The controversial ‘don’t say gay’ bill has already passed the state’s senate, and was expected to receive a second vote on Tuesday.
House speaker Beth Harwell said last week she was holding discussions with fellow Republicans about whether “this bill is necessary, or if we have unintended consequences with this”. There are fears that the broad phrasing of the bill could affect the discussion of such topics as IVF or cloning.
“This bill could easily be passed. We are not taking anything for granted,” said Sanders.
Ironically, there have been some concerns that the bill may lead to children being exposed to concepts about sex at too young an age, the very thing that Senator Stacey Campfield, the original author of the bill, was supposed to be fighting against by banning mention of homosexuality in the classroom.
This is apparently what may have prompted Hensley to hold back.
“We don’t want students to be exposed to alternate lifestyles,” Hensley said. “If their parents want them to know about that, they can teach them at home.”
Hensley acknowledged the proposal’s language needs more work to avoid any unintended consequences.
“We don’t want to introduce sex education to K-8 students because they are not supposed to be teaching sex education in K-8 now,” he said.
This comes after Governor Haslam intervened to try and prevent the Tennessee House from pressing ahead with passing the now infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill over other priority legislation. Haslam has twice now said that he believes the legislation should be put on the back-burner so that Tennessee lawmakers can focus on things like sorting out the state’s economy.
Whether Haslam would attempt a veto of the legislation remains to be seen, but it does appear that there is enough support for a veto override in that eventuality.