‘Sexy’ Don’t Say Gay Bill Dead?


Tennessee’s governor Bill Haslam has said that a controversial bill that would prevent mention of homosexuality in Tennessee schools, dubbed the Don’t Say Gay bill,  has stalled and isn’t going to pass.

Speaking to the The City Paper in an interview published Sunday, Haslam complained about the amount of media attention the bill got while other more positive education stories received little to no press, adding that while the bill might be “real sexy” it is going nowhere:

The governor complained that the media paid little attention to the appointment of the first superintendent of the Tennessee’s Achievement Student District, an attempt to turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools. At the same time, reporters closely watched the “Don’t Say Gay” bill to ban the mention of homosexuality before the ninth grade in Tennessee’s public schools.

“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t pass and probably is never going to pass. At the same time, we hired Chris Barbic to run the Achievement School District, which is a huge deal. That got this much attention,” the governor said, holding his fingers an inch apart. “‘Don’t Say Gay’ got 100 articles. Well, something’s wrong with that picture.

“‘Don’t Say Gay’ is real sexy and yada yada yada. It’s not going anywhere.’”

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 Senate passed the bill in a 20 to 10 vote in May. Added to SB49 was an amendment that would restrict the legislation’s scope to only ban discussion of homosexuality in prepared materials and instruction.

Even though the Tennessee board of education has repeatedly said that such legislation isn’t necessary due to the sate’s “family orientated” curriculum, the Tennessee House was expected to follow the Senate’s lead and take up the legislation. However, a vote never materialized. Legislator Bill Dunn said they would perhaps visit the legislation in 2012, but since then talk of the bill has been quiet.

Senator Stacey Campfield, who unsuccessfully tried to pass the legislation several times while a state representative, has remained defiant that this is not the end for his bill, telling Knoxville CW affiliate WATE:

“I disagree with the governor saying that it is not going to pass. Families across the state believe this is something that should be discussed with young children in the home, not with some radical in the classroom.”

Campfield once likened homosexuality to bestiality, something critics say shows the animus behind the bill. This is, however, a charge that Campfield has denied, saying the legislation is designed to stop “radical” teachers from pushing their various “agendas” in schools, and that it is necessary so that “families [can] handle that issue.”

Several campaigns have formed around combating the Don’t Say Gay bill, including one by Star Trek actor George Takei.

Related Reading:

Tennessee Senate Okays “Don’t Say Gay” in School Bill

TN “Don’t Say Gay” in Schools Bill Unlikely To Get House Vote Before 2012

Tennesseans Go to Court Over State Ban on Gay Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.


Glen P.
Glen P6 years ago

Seriously, WHAT are these people going to do when they can no longer pick on gay people and have it even remotely socially acceptable to do so?

I think they'll still have immigrants, muslims, and atheists to whet their appetite with.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Alice B.: You rock! If I could you would get a trillion Greens Stars!

Jane H.
Jane H6 years ago

I had to search out Alice's comment--when so many people praise it it ought to be left on the 1st page to see!! Great comments from so many.

Janice A.
Janice Adams6 years ago

Imagine the 12 year old boy who would discuss at home that he likes another young boy. Imagine how fast the kid would be shipped off to some "pray the gay away" camp if the parents are religious nuts. At least in a classroom there is some control over real facts that can be given to children. However after reading the bit about the abortion pictures that are being displayed for elementary children I wonder if our schools have people who are in their right minds enough to give factual information. We seem to have a bad infection in our country today and that is "sexual dysfunctionally adults who are raising sexually dysfunctional children by some kind of biblical law. It would be nice if all people raised their children with the truth instead of terrorizing them with hell, the devil and an angry and wrathful god.

Lilithe Magdalene

Glad this bill is not passing - but I am glad it inspired "Don't Say Gay, Say Takei!" video. That was a riot!

Dotti Lydon
Dotti L6 years ago

@ Alice - you know already that I always agree with you and try to send a green star as often as I can. And Derp - you too. A virtual star for you.

alex l.
alex l6 years ago

perhaps they should elect to not say "left handed", or "red headed" or "green eyed".
people use to be burnt at the stake for having those attributes. apparently they decided that as the right hand is good, the left is bad, making lefties....wait for it....servants of the devil. red hair showed they were linked to evil because their hair was the colour of hell fire (how they knew what hell fire looked like was never discussed in depth) and green eyes were unusual enough that they had to be evil - cats have green eyes, and they are bad too because...they are awake at night.
in my mind, this is just as ridiculous. i am tired of watching LGBT people burn in metaphoric fires because other people like to feel superior.
could we have a "don't be hateful" bill passed?

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

I agree with Wayne M. We will be better off discussing things openly and maybe getting facts straight than having children fend of themselves on trying to get information on any topic. Maybe I was over-protected or just not sociable enough to have gotten much information, accurate or misinformation, from my peers. I remember high school mostly as a life of quiet desperation over not being able to get along with my mother.

Marianne C.
Marianne C6 years ago

If he thinks the unilateral rejection & denial of a large segment of the world's population is "real sexy," I can hardly wait to hear what he thinks of OTHER human rights...

vicki fellner
Victoria Fellner6 years ago

I grew up with a gay uncle and his partner. This was in the late 40's thru 60"s.. My parents never made a big deal that my uncle and his partner lived together. We just accepted that they were like other people.