This here gay blog told you earlier in the year about the controversial (and ridiculous) bill proposed by Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn that seeks to make saying the words “gay” or “homosexuality”, let alone discussing the topics, illegal in Tennessee schools.
It is with deep regret that today we inform you that a panel within the Tennessee Senate has passed the bill by a vote of 6-3. The three dissenting votes came from Democrat senators. This thing is on its way to becoming law in no time.
As introduced, the bill would have put into law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the ninth grade.
But when it came before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, contended current law already prohibits such instruction by deeming it a misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the “family life curriculum” adopted by the state Board of Education.
Campfield contends homosexuality is being discussed in classrooms. Spokesmen for the Board of Education and the state Department of Education told the committee they are unaware of any such activity.
Legislation like this is obviously troubling for a number of reasons. Preventing teachers and guidance counselors from discussing homosexuality with kids in the midst of puberty is an obvious concern. A gay student being shunned at home by anti-gay parents will find no solace or assistance from what may be the only other trusted adults in his life; his teachers.
On a personal note, when I was in 8th grade, I was teased relentlessly for being perceived to be gay. We’re talking fights in the school yard Every. Single. Day. My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Kessler, was there for me without ever making me feel embarrassed or less-than. She feigned a back injury for me so I could assist her at lunchtime, rather that go out for recess and get the shit kicked out of me every. Single. Day. Acts like Mrs. Kessler’s are being made illegal in Tennessee, and gay students are being legally cut off from the help and support they desperately need to make it through the day, let alone middle school.
We’re deeply concerned about this law. Yesterday we told you about the Kentucky church that voted to no longer sign marriage licenses until gay couples are legally permitted to marry as well, and boy oh boy was it a hit. Thousands of you shared the story with your friends and families. This story is equally important to share. For every church deciding to do the right thing, there are entire states legislating to keep us down. Spread the word. We cannot let this stand. Lives may be at stake.
What do you think of the Don’t Say Gay Bill?