NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A panel in the Tennessee state House on Wednesday voted to advance the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a measure that would prohibit Tennessee public schools from teaching LGBTQ-related issues.
The legislation limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through the eighth grades, and cleared its first hurdle in the state House on a voice vote of the House Education subcommittee.
The panel accepted the version of the bill that passed the state Senate late in last year’s session.
During the hearing, Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) stated the amended version of the bill is in line with current curriculum and is consistent with what is already written in Title 49 of the Tennessee Code Annotated.
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), was the only member of the subcommittee to speak against the measure, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”
The Tennessee Equality Project said there is no curriculum in Tennessee that discusses sexuality in grades K-8, so the bill is unnecessary.
The bill, first proposed in 2008 by state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), was approved last May following his three year effort to implement the ban.
Campfield has said the bill is necessary because homosexuality is a “learned behavior.”
Though supporters of the bill assert that it 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.
Opponents of the bill also claim it will prevent teachers and school officials from preventing the bullying of LGBTQ youths.