Tennessee Tells Teachers: “Don’t Say Gay”

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May 31, 2011

On May 20th a bill, which would prevent public school teachers and instruction materials from mentioning homosexuality in class, passed the Tennessee State Senate. State bill 49, or the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would limit school instruction to “age-appropriate natural human reproduction science.” The key words are “natural” and “reproduction.” According to the bill’s sponsor, Republican Stacey Campfield, gay, lesbian and bisexual people don’t “naturally” reproduce, so no sexual orientation other than heterosexuality can be addressed by teachers and teaching materials in school.

This means that when kindergarteners are making family trees from construction paper, students with gay parents in Tennessee may bring up their moms or dads in class, but the teacher won’t be able to discuss the fact that there are different kinds of families, including those with two moms or two dads. And an eighth grader questioning his or her sexual orientation won’t be able to ask health teachers questions about sexual orientation or hear about any of the resources out there for LGBT youth.

The bill still has to pass the Tennessee House and probably won’t be voted on until 2012. Tennessee voters can still let their state representatives know how dangerous this kind of legislation really is. Visit the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation’s “It’s OK to Say Gay” campaign page on Facebook to support ending homophobia in Tennessee.

School should be a safe place that offers unbiased, accurate information and a tolerant environment—two things this prejudiced bill would blatantly prevent.

—Meg Gibbon, 19, Contributor

Posted In: LGBTQ

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