TN Puts Off Don’t Say Gay Bill, Favors Abstinence-Only Update


Tennessee lawmakers were expected to take up the now infamous Don’t Say Gay bill on Tuesday, but reports say they have put off considering the legislation until the end of the session with more lawmakers now favoring an update of the state’s abstinence-only sex education law instead.

Reports the Tennessean:

The sponsors of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill agreed Tuesday to put off debating the measure until the end of the legislative session, a procedural move that usually signals they do not intend to pursue it. Backers said they would instead shift their focus to an abstinence education measure that is favored by social conservatives.

Sponsors had been under pressure to amend the original bill, which would have banned any teaching about sexuality apart from “natural human reproduction” before eighth grade. The measure was meant to keep schools and teachers from initiating discussions about gays and lesbians, but even its backers conceded Tuesday that it might have brought unintended consequences.

“We found out there really is not sex education curriculum in K-8 right now,” said state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, the bill’s original sponsor.

This comes after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam again told reporters that lawmakers in his own party should set aside the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in order to focus on more pressing issues.

Reports WPLN in a piece published Monday:

Haslam says heís also talked a few times with Hohenwald Representative Joey Hensley, the proposalís sponsor.

HASLAM: “He knows and understands that, as I’ve said before, is not something I think is particularly helpful or needed right now. Again, I think the state already has rules in place about what can be taught.”

However, Hensley is reported to still be keen on pressing ahead with the legislation, though reports suggest he would still like to tweak the bill further.

This is because the amended version of Senator Stacey Campfield’s original legislation has been so altered that there is now a concern that it could actually allow for the teaching of sex education in K-8, something current law in the state doesn’t allow.

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?

This is something that conservative Tennessee lawmakers are keen to avoid and what does seem clear is that, the more the bill is amended to try and make it palatable, the more the legislation seems to divide rather than unify.

As for Republican Governor Haslam, this is now the third time he has spoken out to remind lawmakers they should be concentrating on issues like the economy.


Related Reading:

Don’t Say Gay Bill Needed to Keep Indoctrinating Children, Claims Rep

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


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to JenLight.


Dan B.
Dan B6 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-education, anti-99%, union busting, Medicare and Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

Tony C.
Tony C6 years ago

Have these people been taking their stupid pills again????
A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation, children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anybody else. Common sense would dictate that if children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help not tease or bully others. It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught from LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier and earlier. Children should be taught the joys and the consequences of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) But you say when will this be taught. Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in and remove Geometry or Algebra. They can learn this in college if needed. I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principals where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these principals I believe business an

Saliane Anderssen
Saliane A6 years ago

How about they take their own advice - they need to abstain from being in politics! That is the only abstinence that makes sense!

Beth M.
Beth M6 years ago

Yeah... abstinence-only works. Will you please join the rest of us in the real world! Abstinence has NEVER worked since man appeared on the earth.

Mitch D.
Mitch D6 years ago

Luvenia- what "fruit cakes"? Whatever you are comparing them to, I really do not understand your comment AT ALL!

Mitch D.
Mitch D6 years ago

John M... wake up and smell the coffee! It is 2012 and EVERYONE can deny that abstinence only does NOT work.

This bill is like so MANY others put forth by Republicans, such a time-waster... debating it. Our tax $$ at work folks... legislating morality should not be what we pay for.

Linda T.
Linda T6 years ago

Tennessee has the one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Now we know why?

Karen H.
Karen H6 years ago

Abstinence works? Sure, if you put your mind to never having sex. Maybe Tennessee's legislators should give it a try.
Kids have feelings and want to explore them. Talk to a horny teen about abstinence and see how far that gets you. There’s peer pressure. There are the misconceptions—“If you don’t take care of my erection, it will cause serious health problems.” There are “role models” in movies and the tabloids.
The answer is education. Talking about sex may make you feel “dirty”, but hiding it doesn’t make it go away. Kids have questions that need to be answered.
Sex and homosexuality are not going away, not matter how you try to ignore them. Discussing homosexuality with our children doesn’t turn them gay as some would have us believe. Education can result in less bullying, and perhaps save lives.

John Mansky
John M6 years ago

One cannot deny,that "abstinence" only,works!!!

Chris M.
Chris M6 years ago

How's that "abstinence thing" working out for the catholic priests? Religious freaks need to wake the fuc* up.