TN Senate OKs Bill That Would Make it Illegal to Mention the Existence of Gay People to Students

The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee has approved one lawmaker's revolutionary plan to fight the "homosexual agenda": don't tell students gay people exist until they get to high school. (!!!)

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports:

The measure (SB49) is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, who unsuccessfully pushed the same idea - nicknamed the "don't say gay" bill - for six years as a member of the state House before he was elected to the Senate.

As introduced, the bill would have put into law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the ninth grade.

Absurd? Of course. The logic appears to be: if young students aren't allowed to hear about homosexuality in school, then they won't hear about it anywhere, and then there will be no more gay people. And that's... a good thing. Apparently.

But the bill is actually worse than absurd -- it's potentially very dangerous, as it would hamper efforts to prevent anti-gay bullying among students. (If you can't say the world "gay," how can you teach young people that bullying gay classmates is wrong? And how can you offer a lifeline to students who may be suffering at the hands of such bullying?)

What's even more sad is that opposition to the bill in the state Senate focused not on the legislation being damaging, hateful, and downright stupid, but rather on the fact that the bill might be redundant:

[W]hen [the bill] came before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, contended current law already prohibits such instruction by deeming it a misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the "family life curriculum" adopted by the state Board of Education.

Tracy proposed an amendment to rewrite Campfield's bill to require the Board of Education to study the issue and determine whether any teaching about homosexuality is occurring and, if so, recommend what should be done about it.

Campfield contends homosexuality is being discussed in classrooms. 

Oh, it is being discussed.

Tennessee, I love you, but seriously. Your lawmakers need to get a grip.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at April 22, 2011, 5:16am

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