Students protest Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, while Senate delays vote — again

Nashville students protest the Don't Say Gay bill on May 11.

Nashville students protest the Don't Say Gay bill on May 11. WWWW-TV

The Tennessee state Senate adjourned Wednesday without voting on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and now the bill’s author, Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has put off Thursday’s planned vote and rescheduled it for next week.


Nashville students protest the "Don't Say Gay" bill at the Tennessee state capital on May 11.

The bill — which would put into state law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the 9th grade — has now missed five scheduled votes in the Senate: April 28, May 5, May 9, May 11 and May 12, adding to speculation that Campfield does not have the support needed to pass the measure.

Even if Campfield’s bill passes the in the Senate this year, the House version is not expected to be considered until next year.

Rep. Bill Dunn, the bill’s sponsor in the House, said last week that it’s too late in the year for the bill to be approved that chamber, and that he will not pursue passage this year.

In fact, no action has been taken on the House version of the bill since Feb. 9, when it was assigned to a subcommittee.

On Wednesday, dozens of Nashville high school students rallied at the state capital to protest the bill. Some students believe if it ever passes, the bill could stop teachers from curbing bullying in the classroom, especially if the target is a gay student.

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.”

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