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Tennessee Lawmakers Propose Ban on Mentioning LGBT People in Schools

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Tennessee State Sen. Stacey Campfield (left) and Rep. Bill Dunn (right), both R-Knoxville

Two Tennessee lawmakers, State Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn, have introduced a bill in the state’s legislature that would ban schools from discussing any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality. The bill, House Bill 229 and Senate Bill 49 (PDF 36KB/1 page), says in part: “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill presents serious problems for students whose family members may be gay, or who may be gay themselves:

“The Don’t Say Gay bill raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free speech and government overreach,” said Ben Byers with the Tennessee Equality Project. …”It limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom,” Byers said. “It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”



Lindoro Almaviva
February 23rd, 2011 | LINK

OK, serious question:

What is it with these republicans? they walk around with an America and a Constitution enema and then they pull stuff like this out? Are they for real or are they ensuring that future generations see the Republican party as the party of the Xenophobes-Racist-Homphobic people?

Stefano A
February 23rd, 2011 | LINK

If I’m not mistaken, Campfield has introduced this bill every year since 2008. He must be betting that with Republicans in control it’ll stand a better chance this time around.

February 23rd, 2011 | LINK

So no talking about current events, either?

I guess that also means no talking bad about gays either, right?

February 23rd, 2011 | LINK

It also means no mention of asexuality, pansexuality, or the sexuality of people who don’t fit into gender binaries, who can’t by definition be heterosexual.

Messrs. Campbell and Dunn might be casting a wider net than they realize.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Their reasoning is quite interesting… and i suppose quite rational if you put yourself in their place. Their childhood probably dictates that their were no gay people or extremely few. They find that gay people exist, not where they live, but rather were homosexuality is purported to exist. Since everyone is heterosexual by nature, and homosexuality is only learned behavior, then it follows that the less you discuss homosexuality the more your protect people by not exposing them to assimilating this ill.

Timothy (TRiG)
February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Ah, Section 28.


February 24th, 2011 | LINK

If this bill passes (and I suspect it probably will despite the idiocy of it) I have to wonder how far it will go. I can’t really tell what’s in public school libraries, but Nashville’s public library has three copies of both Heather Has Two Mommies and Zack’s Story, as well as dozens of other books aimed at younger readers that deal with homosexuality.

If any of these books are also in elementary or middle school libraries across the state are they going to be pulled? Sadly, even if they are, I have a feeling a lot of parents will be happy about it.

Other Fred in the UK
February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Section 28 was a bad law, in a technical sense as well as (in my opinion) a moral sense. This proposed law is absurd. Teachers might be able to admit the law on marriage was different in Iowa, but could not explain why. Various passages in the bible would have to be censored.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Something tells me that the “Don’t Say Gay” law won’t apply to using “gay” as a slur or saying “that’s so ‘gay'” about anything and everything stupid, lame or weak. Of course, in the opinion of these homophobes, those uses are OK because they are the proper use of the word “gay”.

Bruce Garner
February 24th, 2011 | LINK

I have often wondered how secure guys like these were in their own sexuality. I would have picked one out as being gay just by his picture.

Upbringing played a big role in many people’s views of African-Americans and other people of color. It took getting to know those who were different to change hearts and minds… least those open to change.

I would also wager that these two boys go to church regularly. Yet they forget that there were absolutely no exceptions or qualifications to the commandment that we love our neigbors as ourselves. (Please don’t bring up the “love the sinner but hate the sin” argument. It is not anywhere in Scripture.

Let’s hope people with more sensible judgement will prevail.

Mihangel apYrs
February 24th, 2011 | LINK

there are parts of the USA that are more primitive than Albania, and about par with Uganda.

How can the country that gave us MLK and others of that quality have such a large population of mediaeval throwbacks?

Timothy Kincaid
February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Isn’t this the fourth year in a row that Campfield proposed this nonsense? He’s a joke in Tennessee



I don’t think we commented in 2010.

Now Campfield is in the State Senate rather than the House (Knoxville must love its loons) and it looks like he’s found a fellow loon who wants to toss his reputation in with the least respected legislator in Tennessee.

Regan DuCasse
February 24th, 2011 | LINK


Are these the same people who would jump on their Constitutional 1st amendment rights of expression if they were restricted in bigoted or discriminatory rhetoric?

Aren’t these the same people who don’t seem to know the difference between say, and Christian telling someone they SHOULD be Christian and they aren’t good people unless they are A Christian, as opposed to a gay person conveying the truth about themselves and NOT trying to MAKE someone else gay?

How does being informed, educated and able to live peacefully with someone gay possibly be a bad thing for an educational institution?
Schools are OBLIGATED to perform this duty, regardless of what people like these think of a particular minority.

Schools can’t restrict POSITIVE expression, and should restrict very negative expression that’s not conducive to a safe school situation.
I’m sick of people like these idiots not knowing the difference.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

I commented over at Joe My God – won’t this mean schools can’t teach kids how to avoid pedophiles? You know, the whole “Stranger Danger” training the Oprah loves so much? The training may not specifically mention “sexual orientation” but it sure talks about people who might not be straight.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Freedom of expressoin is the most basic of all human rights – without it, none of the others are possible, because it strips your right to defend yourself. That’s why I believe, proponents of anti-expression laws, who abuse their political position and seek to silence victims do deserve pies, eggs, vegetables in their faces – at any opportunity. Why this is not anti-constitutional in America I will never understand.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Campfirld and Dunn…they look like they’d make a cute couple.

February 24th, 2011 | LINK

Why do Republicans go off the small-government reservation when they wish to promote fundie legislation. This will require more government theocracy. So government intrusion into peoples’ lives is okay if it doesn’t cost them any money. Am I getting this right? Not in MY America!

February 25th, 2011 | LINK

A certain teacher in a rural Utah school district was commanded by a written notice that she couldn’t “make comments, announcements or statements to students, staff members or parents of students regarding [her] homosexual orientation or lifestyle.. “

That was in 1997.

Maybe Campfield/Dunn need to bone up on the resulting lawsuit. It was Wendy Weaver vs. Nebo School District. (ACLU archives.)

February 25th, 2011 | LINK

Are we not the nation that is supposed to be showing the entire world equality and understanding? What happened to this belief? I love how they are always trying to shut off the gay world to everyone. First of all when I was in Elementary and Middle school they never spoke of homosexuality and guess what I turned out to be gay!!! Homosexuality is NOT a damn learned behavior either! I am so sick and tired of the Republican Party always bitching and gripping about their rights to speech, but as a homosexual person I need to be silent….that’s complete and UTTER BULLSHIT. Get in touch with your own SEXUALITY and leave everyone else alone!!!! It makes me sick to say I am from the state of Tennessee.

Peter Dybing
February 25th, 2011 | LINK

Have they lost their minds. How do we educate young adolescents have hormones raging about responsible behavior, sexual STD’s, etc.

Right wing nut cases seem to be coming out of the wood work.

February 26th, 2011 | LINK

They’re complete idiots who think bigotry and homophobia are family values. They’ll be protested and condemned for this if it passes until they are thrown out of office.

However, this might be a great way to ban all religion and religious groups of school campuses.

February 27th, 2011 | LINK

This means they can’t mention about half the Republican Party, or religious ‘leaders’, named in the past 30 years or so.

March 18th, 2011 | LINK

These legislators are quite active – they have also plan to ban vegetables (because vegetables contain nicotine!):

April 22nd, 2011 | LINK

I’d be curious to know the increase in the rate of gay youth suicide in conjunction with this kind of talk –and there will be. I can’t imagine the terror struck in the minds of young people who are subjected to this kind of talk.

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