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:


(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.


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?


February 16th, 2012

So, no discussion of in vitro or surrogacy?


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.


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…

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.