Tag Archives: say

“Don’t Say Gay”—Tennessee Law Prohibiting Talk of Homosexuality in Schools

UPDATE: The bill has been passed by the Tennessee Senate as of May 20, 2011 despite being delayed a number of times, and being quite heavily protested.

The bill prohibiting teachers from discussing homosexuality with students before grade nine is close to being passed. If the bill gets passed, it will be illegal for teachers to discuss homosexual matters with students in kindergarten up to grade eight. The bill is claimed to hold only the child’s safety in interest, by keeping the school curriculum “age appropriate.”

According to Time.com,

The bill supporters, including sponsor Sen. Stacey Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville who unsuccessfully pushed the same bill in the House for six years before being elected to the Senate, say the bill is “neutral” and simply leaves it up to families to decide when it is an appropriate time to talk to their kids about sexuality.

But in only restricting speech about homosexuality, not heterosexuality, the measure seems to have a more one-sided agenda than the sponsor purports. That point has led gay-rights activists to call the bill a form of discrimination, especially as it bars teachers from talking about gay issues or sexuality even with students who identify as gay or have gay parents.

People who are in favour of the bill feel that it will protect children from being exposed to sexual matters that are too complicated or mature for them to understand at such an age.

I hope this bill doesn’t get passed. I feel it’s unreasonable to enforce such a law that would serve no better purpose than to alienate children who are gay. What is a child to think if they try to ask a teacher about something they’ve seen or heard about gays, only to be told they can’t ask those kind of questions? Teachers would be implying that such a topic is taboo, which implies such a topic is inappropriate and bad. This only serves to teach the child that they are different if they are gay or have gay parents, and that different is wrong.

The reality is that sexual conversation between teacher and student isn’t likely to happen in general (of course this depends on what you define as ‘sexual conversation’). I think that making the matter illegal is a bit far.

It doesn’t make me feel any better that the Republican senator sponsoring this bill, Stacey Campfield, has previously proposed other controversial bills such as issuing death certificates for aborted fetuses and allowing guns on college campuses for self-defense against possible school shootings.


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