WASHINGTON – A Tennessee bill seeks to forbid teachers from speaking about homosexuality in public elementary and middle schools, according to the local WVLT-TV news station.
The bill, HB 229 and SB 49, was introduced by Republican State Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn, both of Knoxville. They say it’s a parent’s job to talk about homosexuality, not a teacher in a classroom where other kids may be present.
“No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality,” it reads.
Gay-rights advocates said the measure is discriminatory as it singles out homosexuality as off-limits for sex education in school but affirms “heterosexuality” as acceptable.
The Tennessee Equality Project, a gay-rights group affiliated with the Human Rights Campaign, is lobbying against the proposal, calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“The Don’t Say Gay bill raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free speech and government overreach,” Ben Byers of the Tennessee Equality Project told WVLT-TV, describing it as an attempt to politicize sexuality.
“It limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom. It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”
In a statement, Campfield insisted that the bill was “neutral,” and he implied that it seeks to quell an “agenda — one way or the other.” “We should leave it to families to decide when it is appropriate to talk with children about sexuality,” he said.
Of course, Campfield and Dunn’s bill doesn’t stop young kids from discussing or learning about sexuality in school — but only if it’s heterosexuality.