Amend Don't Say Gay bill (HB0229) to ensure protection of LGBTQ students
  • Petitioned House Education Committee

This petition was delivered to:

House Education Committee
State Rep. Courtney Rogers
State Rep. Harry Brooks
State Rep. Barry Doss
State Rep. Kevin Brooks
State Rep. Beth Harwell
State Rep. Joseph Pitts
State Rep. Bill Dunn
State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh
State Rep. Dale Carr
State Rep. John Windle
State Rep. John DeBerry
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari
State Rep. Ron Lollar
State Rep. Debra Moody
State Rep. Joe Carr
State Rep. John Ragan
State Rep. John Forgety
State Rep. Dennis Powers
State Rep. Ryan Williams

Amend Don't Say Gay bill (HB0229) to ensure protection of LGBTQ students

    1. Petition by


Last Wednesday, the House Education Subcommittee approved an amended version of HB0229, a bill historically called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill which amends curriculum guidelines for grades K-8. The original version of the bill stated that “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

Instead of explicitly prohibiting discussion of homosexuality, the amended version of HB0229 exclusively limits “any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school” to something called “natural human reproduction science.”

Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) arrived late to Wednesday’s hearing with assurances that the amended bill does not “prohibit the use of the word gay, change the state’s anti-bullying statute, or prohibit a school guidance counselor from discussing issues of sexuality with a student.” He made the case that HB0229, as amended, clarifies current curriculum practice and is consistent with Title 49 as written.

But those assurances don’t agree with statements made by the Senate sponsor of the same bill (SB0049) before and after it was amended.

Sen. Stacey Campfield claimed last April that he had proof that teachers were talking about homosexuality in the schools, even though the State Board of Education stated there was no evidence it was happening. When asked directly, Sen. Campfield could not and would not provide specific instances of teachers talking about homosexuality in grades K-8. He made vague references to one alleged incident by a teacher, but could not even say what grade this teacher taught or what subject.

When asked about the amended SB0049 after it passed last May, Sen. Campfield admitted that many of his colleagues were uncomfortable with the language. "There's more than one way to skin a cat," he said and went on to say, "I got what I wanted." He said the language is appropriate because "homosexuals don't naturally reproduce," and he said it's necessary because the state's curriculum is unclear on what can be taught.

Tell the House Education Committee to memorialize the words of Rep. Dunn by adding a new amendment to HB0229. Tell them to amend the bill to add the following language as a new subdivision (3) of subsection(c) of Section 1: 

"Nothing in this section shall prohibit any person in public elementary, junior high or high schools from confronting bullying, intimidation or harassment of students as outlined in Section 49-6-1014 through 49-6-1019."

The above amendment will send a clear message that state lawmakers care for all students in Tennessee. Without such an amendment, Rep. Dunn’s assurances mean nothing. It will mean House leadership has turned a deaf ear toward those young students calling for help who endure years of anti-gay bullying. If HB0229 advances in its current form, the House Education Committee will confirm its animus toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Tennessee. 


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 250 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • mary linden Salter NASHVILLE, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      I would prefer that the bill not be enacted at all in order to ensure the open and appropriate discussion of this issue in schools so that kids will be informed about the issue and know how to reach out to counselors, teachers and others as needed. But if the bill moves forward, I want to assure professionals working in the schools that they can assist students when they have questions.

    • Robin Oakley KNOXVILLE, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      Campfield is an embarrassment to this state!

    • Susan Morgan SPENCER, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      I couldn't believe that TN would pass a bill like that and left as is there will be lots of problems.

    • Jim Lord CORDOVA, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      Let's make this absolutely clear that this is not about bullying lgbt students OR THEIR FRIENDS. Amend this bill to make it clear that this is only about the "teaching" of reproduction and not about harassment of our kids.

    • Kayti Protos NASHVILLE, TN
      • over 2 years ago

      Because institutionalizing homophobia is not the answer to bullying, moral upbringing, or education.


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