TN Senator Insists “Don’t Say Gay” in Schools Bill is Neutral, Not Anti-Gay

Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield appeared on CNN this week to defend legislation he authored that would ban mention of sexuality in schools through to K-8 except for heterosexual marriage, insisting in the interview that his legislation is entirely neutral.

Campfield went on to say the legislation is designed to stop people pushing their various “agendas” in schools and that it is necessary so that “families [can] handle that issue.”

From On Top Magazine:

When asked what was the inspiration behind the bill, Campfield responded: “Well, you can look around the nation, you see the things that are happening and the different agendas that people are pushing, one way or the other. And I just decided, you know, listen, let’s leave it up to the families to decide when something is age appropriate, when it isn’t age appropriate. When those children are ready to talk about those issues, let’s leave it up to the families how they want to handle that issue.”


“My bill is neutral. It doesn’t say anybody can speak for it or against it. So, I’m sure people wouldn’t want someone coming out and saying, you know, there are some people who say, you know, we should be preaching against it and saying it’s evil, dirty and wrong, or some people say hey, it’s great, wonderful thing.”


“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he added. “Like I said, I think we need to let the families decide that.” 




While he may be touting his bill as neutral to the mainstream press, Campfield, who has sponsored the bill in five previous sessions, likened being gay to bestiality during a 2009 interview with Sirius XM’s Michelangelo Signorile.

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 senate committee vote by 6-3 las week and is awaiting a Senate floor vote.
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.

Critics have warned the bill could have a chilling effect on children being able to confide in teachers should they have questions or concerns around sexuality and gender identity and may even stifle bullying prevention related to LGBT identity. 

Mr. Campfield has previously said that the bill must be put in place to protect kids from being confused should they hear about topics like “transgenderism” — this is something his bill would not appear to cover though, given that it focuses solely on sexuality.

For previous coverage of this bill, please click here.

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


Darcy H.
Darcy H7 years ago

Oh he's pushing an agenda all right. He's indoctrinating our children with his own religious beliefs and pushing intolerance and misguided education.

Maarja L.
Maarja L7 years ago

Mitzie V. - you took he words out of my mouth.

Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert7 years ago

Why is it even possible for legislators to determine what should or should not be taught in schools? Doesn't this infringe some right of teachers to have the freedom to do exercise their profession according to their own reponsible judgement? Is it legal - even constitutional - in the USA for professionals to be hamstrung in this way? From outside your country, I find this really difficult to understand.

Mitzie W.
Mitzie W7 years ago

Sounds rather like Don't Ask Don't Tell but for schools.

Bobbie T.
Bobbie T7 years ago

the GOP is bigoted. White,straight and Baptist only welcome. Whatever they say to your face...double check their voting records. The GOP will always vote for the rich and entitled. NEVER for the working, poor, or otherwise disinfranchised.

Mitch Dalition
Mitch D7 years ago

The insane bills/laws being considered in many of our state houses are utterly insane... and this is one of them. JOBS and GROWTH people.... sick of these republican morons!

John Doucette
John Doucette7 years ago

The only way this bill could be neutral is to outlaw any mention of sexuality, period, not even heterosexuality. It is like the federal Abstinence-Only Until Marriage legislation. More and more straight couples are not getting married and having children and recognize themselves as a family. Ignorance is not bliss as study after study has shown.

Karen & Edward O.
Karen and Ed O7 years ago

Huh? You create a bill preventing free speech and you say your bill is neutral? Okay?!

Linda T.
Linda T7 years ago

The problem is in Tennessee families do not handle the issue. Tennessee has a high rate of teen births and he is the cause of that problem. His so called high morals has kept an explosion of teen births continuing in his state.

David P.
David P7 years ago

Young gay kids start becoming aware of their sexual orientation as early as the 3rd grade. If they were made aware, at that time, that they are just a natural part on the spectrum of human sexuality, a lot of depression--and suicides--could be stayed.

Gay kids *need* to know they're all right--just they way they are--and they need to know it as early as possible. This is adult heterosupremacism forcing it's "ick" factor on kids--and *not* doing what's in the best interests of the children.