Don’t Say Gay in Tennessee Schools

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This week, Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield (R) re-introduced the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans any discussion of homosexuality by elementary and middle school teachers in the state.

The bill’s actual name is the “Classroom Protection Act”, referring to protection against “safety issues involving human sexuality,” insinuating that classrooms need to be protected from LGBTQ people. If a teacher or other school official—including counselors and nurses—knows or suspects that a child might not be heterosexual, the bill makes parental notification mandatory. This means that a student coming out to a trusted adult at school for advice about their sexuality would lose any expectation of privacy.

Within the vague and open-ended piece of legislation, the senator attempts to touch on the density of human sexuality. “Because of its complex societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications,” human sexuality, according to Campfield (and others on the Right who share his stance), should be considered an acceptable topic of conversation only at home. The bill states: “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.”

Most would agree that human sexuality is complex and requires some level of maturity to fully grasp. However, blocking informational resources (i.e. teachers) from educating students on their own sexual orientation can only harm youth—especially in treating homosexuality as negative and dangerous, a religious influence on public education.

Meanwhile, Campfield’s own deeply inaccurate beliefs demonstrate he could use a dose of comprehensive sex education. “My understanding is that it is virtually—not completely, but virtually—impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex,” he stated in an interview. “Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community—it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, I believe.”

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