Vote on Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Delayed


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?

Via The Guardian:

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.

Via The Tennessean:

“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.


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 Morguefile user license with thanks to kconnors.


Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson5 years ago

k-8 grade children don't need sex ed. Too bad that this is left up to the schools at all as it allows goverment intevention. Parent,churches,etc should take amore active role in raising children to be respondsable adults. Sex ed. is only one small part of being respondsable. Teach young children to kind,loving,respondsable.

Andrew Carvin
Andrew Carvin5 years ago

I made a video about why Homosexuals should have equal rights.

Watch it, share it, and join the fight against the evil Homophobes.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley5 years ago

This piece of trash should be consigned to the bin as soon as possible. It's pathetic.

Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

May it stay in committee until the sun switches from red to nova.

Lydia Price

I'm sorry, but I disagree. I do not feel that sex-ed at the tender age of K-6 should be taught at all unless it is elective and signed by the children's parents. By 7th grade many children are more mature and able to grasp the importance of reproductive information without being disturbed or frightened. Sure, children are curious before this age and giggle a lot if the subject comes up, but most lack the maturity to deal with any meaningful information. They are children, after all.

Ra Sc
Ra Sc5 years ago

Yes, it's a great idea to not teach kids about sex until after they have started dating. I'm sure they can deal with any pressure or tricky situations they get into themselves...

On a more serious note, this bill is terrible, and it reflects the usual conflation of teaching about gay people with teaching about sex. It doesn't teach sex any more than a Disney movie does. A Disney movie teaches heterosexual sex in that you see couples kissing, holding hands, talking about wanting to be together, and getting married. You can teach about gays and lesbians by simply teaching that it's the exact same thing, except both people happen to be the same sex. If you can teach about hetero-marriage to 5 year olds, why do we need to wait til High School to teach about same-sex relationships? Oh right, because that way it is harder to undo any bigotry instilled. That way a culture of bullying the kids who are different will be difficult to change.

Deborah Gaffin
Deborah Gaffin5 years ago

By 8th grade, kids are 14 years old- they should certainly have had at LEAST basic health/sex ed Assuming that parents will provide appropriate 'sex ed' at the 'appropriate age' is faulty logic. No parent EVER seems to feel their kid is 'ready' or 'at that point'. Add to that parents, siblings, or friends giving incorrect info, and you have serious problems waiting to happen. Kids need to know accurate, unbiased information WELL before they are inclined to BE sexually active- or even to recognize what 'sexual activity' is. (I recall being shocked to learn from some of my daughter's friends that 'oral sex' wasn't considered sex- and was thought of pretty casually.)

Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

I hope Tennessee loses their federal monies if they pass this bill. My perception of Tennessee is of a very backwards, ignorant society and certainly not anywhere I would want to visit or ever do any type of business in this state.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Here I always thought gay,was happy?

Jennie R.
Jennie D5 years ago

Sexuality spans our entire lifetimes. It doesn't start in the 9th grade. With the horrible stats on sexual abuse of children, and the fact that it common for children to have sex in grade school, all children need age-appropriate sex education, throughout all grades.