A Tennessee Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms.
The measure, SB49, is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), who unsuccessfully pushed same idea — nicknamed the “don’t say gay” bill — for six years as a member of the state House before he was elected to the Senate.
As introduced, the bill would have put into state law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the 9th grade.
The Senate Education Committee approved the bill by a vote of 6-3, but with an amendment that would require the Board of Education to study compliance with the state’s sex education curriculum, and “adopt” as part of the family life curriculum — a ban on discussion of homosexuality.
The Tennessee Equality Project said there is no curriculum in Tennessee that discusses sexuality in grades K-8, and that the bill is unnecessary.
The bill “limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom,” said Ben Byers of the Tennessee Equality Project. “It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate.