'Don't Say Gay' Education Bill Advances in Tennessee

Teachers can't talk about homosexuality before high school under bill

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 21, 2011 4:59 PM CDT | Updated Apr 24, 2011 7:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Tennessee state Senate committee has passed a bill to make sure teachers don't mention homosexuality in classes below ninth grade, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The Republican sponsor of the so-called “don’t say gay” bill got it passed 6-3 after some legal wrangling, and it now moves to the Senate floor. It states: “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

State Sen. Stacey Campfield calls it a "neutral" bill and rejects claims of bias. "We should leave it to families to decide when it is appropriate to talk with children about sexuality—specifically before the eighth grade.” A member of the Tennessee Equality Project counters that it “limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom," notes the LBGTQ Nation blog. "It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family."

State Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, center, is sponsoring the bill.
State Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, center, is sponsoring the bill.   (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
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