Haslam, though seen as a moderate Republican compared to Tennessee’s more conservative dominated legislature, came under fire earlier this year from gay rights groups for his signing of HB600, a bill which repealed the city of Nashville‘s sexual orientation protection ordinance.
The bill, known nationally as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits the teaching or mentioning of homosexuality between kindergarten and 8th grade.
Though supporters, such as Senator Campfield, assert that the bill is ideologically neutral, and allows families to discuss the sensitive topic of sexuality when parents feel their children are ready, many have noted that the bill actually ostracizes LGBT students since it promotes heterosexuality as the only form of sexuality that can be discussed by teachers.
Governor Haslam, in an interview with the The City Paper‘s Jeff Woods, stated his feelings about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill,
“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t pass and probably is never going to pass…‘Don’t Say Gay’ is real sexy and yada yada yada. It’s not going anywhere.”
Senator Campfield sharply responded to Governor Haslam’s words regarding the bills passage:
“I partially agree with the governor that some in the media have an unhealthy obsession with this bill. But I disagree with the governor saying that
it is not going to pass.
“Families across the state believe this is
something that should be discussed with young children in the home, not with some radical
in the classroom.”
The President of the Tennessee Equality Project, Chris Sanders, responded to the Governors words as well, stating on the TEP website:
First, it’s good to know the Governor doesn’t think the bill will pass. It did, however, pass in a modified form in the Senate. I hope the Governor shares his views with Rep. Bill Dunn in the House. Second, the Governor’s right when he says that “somethings wrong with that picture.”
But it’s not the media coverage. It is a public outrage when Tennessee lawmakers try to disappear an entire group of people in our public schools and make life more difficult for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. The media is naturally going to cover that. What’s wrong with the picture is legislative leadership that won’t rein in their extreme members who push such bills