On Thursday, April 20, the State Senate Education Committee recommended passage of Senator Stacey Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill (SB049) in the Senate Education Committee. As introduced, the bill requires that “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality. “
Tennessee’s approved curriculum guidelines include no instruction on homosexuality in the grades K-8. It’s not clear from this bill or the Senate Education Committee debate what would happen if a student asked a question in class about laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation–the teacher might have to respond that he or she is not allowed to discuss such subjects.
The Fiscal Review Committee’s assessment that the cost of this bill is “NOT SIGNIFICANT” is unrealistic. How much will it cost the State of Tennessee to defend Don’t Say Gay when challenged in court on First Amendment free speech grounds?
Don’t Say Gay will tie the hands of school counselors, school psychologists, teachers, principals and other school employees in protecting our children. If a child is experiencing issues relating to their sexual orientation or identity, they would be unable to discuss those issues with the adults who are supervising and teaching them. Early detection of the signs of depression can help prevent suicides among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
Bullying is escalating both on and off school grounds, locally and nationally. Many of these incidents involve real and perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Research shows that environments hostile toward LGBT youth actually increase the risk of LGBT youth suicide. The Trevor Project suicide hotline records disproportionately high call volume from LGBT youth in Tennessee. The Don’t Say Gay bill could mean death to LGBT or questioning youth in Tennessee.
This bill is simply a ploy to introduce bias toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Tennessee schools.
Contact Tennessee State Senators and tell them to VOTE NO on the Don’t Say Gay bill.
1. Send an email message to the Tennessee Senate using this petition.
2. Then call your Senator by phone. Click HERE to find contact information for your Tennessee State Senator. When calling, give your name and address. Tell them “State Government has no business micromanaging school curriculum in Tennessee. I want my Senator to vote no on SB049. How does my Senator plan to vote on this bill?” Send your Senator’s reply to TEP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Leave a message if you get voicemail)
SB049 also includes uncounted costs of enforcement not considered by the Finance Review Committee. How much will it cost the State of Tennessee to defend Don’t Say Gay when challenged in court on First Amendment free speech grounds?
Lastly, this bill would tie the hands of school counselors, school psychologists, teachers, principals and other school employees in protecting our children. SB049 will create a hostile environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth that will increase the risk of harassment, depression and suicide among students.
This bill is bad for schools and for children. Can I count on you to vote no on SB049? I look forward to your response.