Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill is Back

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2012

A Tennessee House Education Committee approved the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill on a voice vote yesterday, sending it to the House Education Committee, which could take up the measure next week. Observers say it is on track for passage in the full house by the time the legislature adjourns in the spring.

The bill (PDF: 36KB/1 page), which would prohibit elementary or middle school teachers from discussing any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, which opponents fear would prohibit discussions of bullying against gay students. It reads:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-1005, is amended by adding the following as new subsection (c) and by relettering the existing subsection (c) accordingly:

(c)

(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity.

(2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

The state Senate has already passed a version last year with an amendment which they claim narrows the scope of the bill. That amendment changed section 2 to read (PDF: 44KB/ 1 page):

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science.  The provisions of this subdivision shall also apply to a group or organization that provides instruction in natural human reproduction science in public elementary or middle schools.

So far, the bill in the house appears not to have been updated to reflect the Senate’s change.

Jim Hlavac

February 16th, 2012

Since most of our opponents like to call us “sick” and “ill” in some way or another, and NOM is famous for saying we’re stunted and sort of like infertility and others of the sort who like this bill, and probably testify for it, are quite sure we’re some how psychologically crazy or psychiatrically crazy in one way or another (though they’re not sure, other than “you’re gay,”) then this law is easily gotten around by application of Section 504 of the Federal Education Law, which specifically prohibits discrimination and demands even coddling and services in one form or another for anyone who is less than perfect psychologically, psychiatrically or fertility or reproductive wise. And so “notwithstanding any other law,” of course, this new law is moot from the get go. And you know, if our opponents keep saying we’re crazy then we should simply hoist them by their own petards on the matter, for then we’re covered by all the laws protecting crazy people. I mean really, where are our bright lawyers to counterintuitively agree that gays are crazy and infertile, ergo, Section 504 applies to us, and also that we deserve full disability and are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If our opponents want to say we’re disabled, then agree with them, and push our inclusion in the law, and then let them sort out their mush, for it will flummox them in ways that might keel a few of them over.

hazemyth

February 16th, 2012

Actually, wouldn’t the plain language of the senate bill mean that public schools would be limited to teaching sex ed?

I mean, it says ‘any material’ is limited to ‘natural human reproduction science’. It doesn’t specify sex ed materials, or biology class materials. Any material.

The second part is tautological, since it limits groups teaching ‘natural human reproduction science’ to teaching about ‘natural human reproduction science’. So, if you’re a group teaching ‘sensitivity regarding sexual minorities’, this part of the law ostensibly wouldn’t apply.

These absurdities aside, it still strikes me that the bill is overly vague. Would it apply to counseling materials? Health and hygiene materials provided by a nurse? Would it apply to history class?

SammySeattle

February 16th, 2012

So, no discussion of in vitro or surrogacy?

Charles

February 16th, 2012

This law is going to make it hard for teachers to discuss current events in the classroom. And, I think that teachers, the adults, have a moral obligation to deal with bullies in a harsh manner.

NancyP

February 16th, 2012

I think that Tennessee teachers should start talking about asexuality as an orientation. Let’s see the fundies’ heads explode: virginity equals perversion…

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