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

On Friday the Tennessee Senate passed a controversial bill that would ban mention of homosexuality in K through 8 schools. The bill, now known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, passed in a 20 to 10 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.”

Added to SB49 was an amendment that would restrict the legislation’s scope to only ban discussion of homosexuality in prepared materials and instruction.

Given that the Tennessee Board of Education has repeatedly said this legislation isn’t needed because there is already a so-called family orientated curriculum in place that makes no mention of homosexuality,

Democratic lawmakers opposed to the bill have said they can see no reason in passing the bill, with Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, reportedly saying: “We have said we should not have age inappropriate material in K through 8. What we’re doing here is passing something just to pass it.”

The legislation has caused a great deal of controversy, with critics saying the bill is anti-gay in nature. Campfield once likened homosexuality to bestiality, something critics say shows the animus behind the bill.

Sen. Campfield, who as a Representative tried unsuccessfully to pass the bill in the House over the previous 6 sessions, has denied the legislation is anti-gay, saying it is designed to stop people pushing their various “agendas” in schools and that it is necessary so that “families [can] handle that issue.”

The bill must now go before the House where it has yet to move out of committee. It seems likely the bill will receive no further attention this year however, as Tennessee State Representative Bill Dunn has gone on record saying that he will hold off pushing the legislation until 2012.

The Senate’s vote prompted an “OK to Say Gay” rally over the weekend. You can read more on that here. 


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


Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson5 years ago

What is so different about gay people? Are they more,,,rude...hyper...smart...colorful? Isn't gay about sex? Why do we have to put sex into the picture ALL the time. I don't want to know what you do in your bedroom and more than I want you to know what i do in mine. It is call private for a reason. Keep pushing and gay rights might really get into trouble.

Rich W.
Rich W.6 years ago

FYI, I checked the vote, and it was along party lines, save one Dem (Burks) voting for.

Darcy H.
Darcy H6 years ago

Oh they are completely pushing an agenda! They are pushing an anti-gay, anti-tolerance agenda that is extremely harmful to our children. I don't see how you can refuse to discuss LGBT sexual material but be okay with the discussion of heterosexual material. You would think that they would ban all talk of sexual material period since they think it should be up to the parents.

Tracey D.
Tracey D6 years ago

I signed the petition against this bill on May 22, 2011. Kudos to George Takei's work on this matter.

Doug D.
Doug D6 years ago

What are they going to do? Jail kids who say "gay"?

James C.
James C6 years ago

once again the polititians walk all over the Constitutional rights of every american. When will these nitwits learn you cannot tell someone what they cannot say are republicans really that stupid I mean just look at what they have tried to pass for laws lately its as anti free speach as it gets.

Ximena Verónica O.

me sorprenden cada vez más estos gringos y para peor. Son unos retrógrados ridiculamente patéticos. No me voy a Tennessee a vivir aunque me pagaran millones!!!!!!!!!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

I loved the video from George: Don't say gay, say Takai.

Bianca B.
Bianca B.6 years ago

well mabye its a good thing its banned. If u really think about it all those students make fun of the word gay. It wont make a difference mabye it will arrose them more

Drusilla P.
Drusilla P6 years ago

Sheesh! Do they realize how ridiculous and backward they appear to a big part of this rock? (purely rhetorical)

Thank you for the post, my dear.