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‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is back, with new provision to ‘out’ LGBT students

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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A Tennessee lawmaker has resurrected the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill which would prohibit teachers from discussing sexuality with their students, but with a new provision that would require school officials to “out” LGBT students to their parents.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) re-introduced the bill (SB 0234), officially titled the “Classroom Protection Act,” which proposes to limit all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“At grade levels pre-K through eight (pre-K-8), any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.”

But the new version of the bill does not prohibit school counselors, nurses, principals or assistant principals from counseling students on the subject of sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity, or as it describes as “behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well- being of the student,” but adds:

“Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred.”

Since the bill was first introduced in 2008 by Campfield (then a representative in the state House), critics have charged that the measure is unnecessary, as state education officials have publicly said that alternative lifestyle discussions are already banned from the state school’s curricula guidelines.

A 2011 version of the bill would have allowed students to ask teachers or guidance counselors questions about “alternative lifestyles,” but prohibited teaching homosexuality “as an acceptable lifestyle.”

That bill passed the Senate but later died in the House when lawmakers failed to put the bill up for a vote.

The newly updated bill submitted by Campfield makes no mention of homosexuality.

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