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Tennessee Senate Panel Advances 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Prohibiting Teachers from Discussing Homosexuality

After a series of amendments were attached to it that essentially keep the bill as it was introduced, an anti-gay Tennessee education bill was advanced by a Senate panel yesterday, the Knoxville News reports:

Campfield 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.

The bill was approved 6-3 and sent to the Senate floor. All the no votes came from Democrats.


Campfield has been criticized on some blogs this week for seeking a $1,000 "retainer" fee to debate the "don't say gay" bill with Del Shores, a Texas-based movie producer and director who has made films on homosexuality.

State law includes prohibitions on a legislator taking compensation for work related to legislative duties except for his or her salary and expense payments due from the state. Another statute prohibits legislators from accepting an honorarium except for travel expenses.

Campfield said his request, which came in an exchange of messages with Shores, was simply for a deposit to guarantee that his travel expenses would be paid.

Campfield has unsuccessfully pushed the so-called "don't say gay" bill for the last six years.

Watch a 2009 report on the bill, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Even in Tennessee, I don't see this bill eventually going anywhere. With that said, although I don't do the whole homophobe=gay thing every time because that does a disservice, this guy definitely gives hits the gaydar for me. And is paranoia with basically trying to closet any and all forms of anything gay and gay related definitely is eye raising.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 21, 2011 8:55:08 AM

  2. We had something like this pass in the UK just 15 years ago - it was called 'Section 28' and prohibited the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools... basically a blanket ban. We now have full legal equality. It goes to show a lot can happen in a small space of time.

    Posted by: Sean | Apr 21, 2011 9:02:37 AM

  3. Another sign of the downfall of American school system -- courtesy to all the "doucebag" legislatures.

    Posted by: ayct | Apr 21, 2011 9:06:15 AM

  4. White + Southern + male + Christianist + GOPer = homophobe. Nothing new here, folks. Yet another sad move in white Southern politics.

    Posted by: Rob | Apr 21, 2011 9:22:05 AM

  5. I like Rob's equation. Can we find a black, conservative, homophobe church lady in the south and kidnap her to the north.

    I'd be interested if it holds and that
    Homophobe - Southern = White + Male + Christianist +GOPer

    BAM! Instant sex and race change.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 21, 2011 9:34:58 AM

  6. At least it's only to the ninth grade. So it wouldn't prevent discussing issues with some older students who definitely know that they are gay.

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 21, 2011 9:38:47 AM

  7. @Sean : Yes, I remember Section 28 in the UK.....another of Margaret Thatcher's preposterous bigoted vile machinations.....

    Now this ass in Tennessee obviously has never learned any lesson from history or comparative politics....in fact he has probably never travelled anywhere.....
    Wait, wasn't he seen lately with Andrej carrying his cases at an airport in Thailand ? Or am I mixing him up with the foot tapping dude in the airport toilet ?
    Or maybe, I'm totally confused and he's the one sending out for a muscular escort and some meth ?
    What a complete unreconstructed "langer", as they say in Cork !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 21, 2011 9:40:47 AM

  8. jt

    when african american xtianistas dominate the legislators in 1 let alone all states as xtianista white males do then your sarcasm might be better appreciated

    Are there homophobic african americans? yes just as there are homophobic Jews, Asians, Arabs, etc

    Only white males hold the majority of government power though and at this time in history with the 2010 repub wave = a huge chunk are blatantly homophobic white males

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com | Apr 21, 2011 9:42:28 AM

  9. Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield with a pink pig


    Posted by: JeffNYC | Apr 21, 2011 10:06:34 AM

  10. Weird, crazy interview with him from last September in Knoxville Metro Pulse


    Posted by: JeffNYC | Apr 21, 2011 10:17:57 AM

  11. Mstrozfcksl

    I think you've been hanging around the comments section here too long. Not every mention of race is actually some giant thing about race. I was just pointing out an amusing facet of algebraic manipulation if that equation was actually a mathematical truth. So it wasn't sarcasm intended to divert blame of homophobia to a non-white, male, christian "I'm considered the social norm" group...it was facetiousness in general surrounding the rules of mathematics.

    The fact of the matter remains that there is a high correlation with homophobia and the combination of the sociological factors of white, male, christian, southern and GOP.

    I am well aware that minorities contribute a minority of the money and political power toward the constant stream of anti-gay legislation. (The exception likely being Mormons and their efforts on Prop 8)

    Posted by: JT | Apr 21, 2011 10:30:04 AM

  12. JT: Mormons ARE a minority everywhere except Utah, and for a people who recite a history of "The Trail of Tears" and being downtrodden by the majority, they sure didn't learn much about how to be fair to other minorities.
    I'm not sure that three of your five "sociological factors" are very relevant to an equation of homophobia. GOP identification is strongly correlated to prejudice, as is a long-ago date of birth. Southern and rural residents and the poorly-educated are all more likely to be prejudiced. But the majority of white people nationally support equality, men's support just trails women's by a narrowing margin and if you separate one kind of Christian (fundamentalists) from other Christians, the level of prejudice is very different.

    Posted by: Gregv | Apr 21, 2011 11:05:37 AM

  13. This proposal is ridiculous, but not surprising in TN. These kinds of laws tend to be less innocuous than they SEEM to the public, because educators feel this constant invisible muzzle on their words as they don't know how crazy someone might go in interpreting it.
    One teacher will think "Well, I don't do any sex education anyway so This doesn't affect me."
    Then one day in current events, a 13-year old reads an item about Ellen and Portia raising money for an animal shelter, and some wingnut parent sues the teacher, saying that just mentioning a same-sex couple is "teaching sexual behavior.".
    Too many teachers will be afraid to allow any kind of free speech about gay people in their classroom.

    Posted by: Gregv | Apr 21, 2011 11:21:50 AM

  14. A very good point, GREGV.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 21, 2011 11:25:29 AM

  15. Well the South has been behind the rest of the US on lots of levels since they were defeated in the Civil War. Some politicians apparently want to keep it that way.

    Posted by: Dusty | Apr 21, 2011 12:06:50 PM

  16. One of the problems with passage of this bill is the legal effect it'll have on not having any discussion of gay-bashing or gay-bullying in Grades 1 - 8. That probably is an intent of this homophobe's bill.

    Posted by: Rob | Apr 21, 2011 12:23:08 PM

  17. Do these people even READ the Constitution? In what interpretation can an state ban discussion of homosexuality but not heterosexuality? Viewpoint discrimination, anyone? Sheeeeeesh!

    Posted by: Mad Professah | Apr 21, 2011 12:27:55 PM

  18. So this means teachers cannot mention the repeal of DADT in civics class? Or do they even have civics classes anymore?

    Posted by: milpert | Apr 21, 2011 3:04:31 PM

  19. No wonder the closest I get to states like Tennessee is at 37,000 feet.

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Apr 21, 2011 7:23:38 PM

  20. These years and years of hypocritical and dangerous torment toward gays as a group and as individuals just sickens me. Sometimes I just want revenge. Why hasn't anyone else gotten up in arms about this?! America the faulty, America the tormenter of gay kids. Ugh.

    Posted by: X | Apr 21, 2011 11:08:41 PM

  21. Oh no, Gawd™ is totally gonna smite these homophobes, mark my words, on April 24th or 25th his district will be leveled by tornados, the wraith of Gawd™ is upon you evil, Xtian homophobes.

    Posted by: Tadpolicus Wex | Apr 22, 2011 6:03:33 PM

  22. Senator Campfield was challenged by Del Shores (creator of Sordid lives) to a debate on homosexuality and the bible and this very bill. He accepted and also asked for $1000 retainer PLUS expenses. Del has agreed to this and is searching venues to hold this debate, meanwhile the advocate has posted a story about it copied from m.knoxnews dotcom but the story is incomplete and not really accurate according to Del Shores on his FB page and the comment section of this story on the advocate. Anyway if you get a chance go to http://www.facebook.com/delshoresfanclub?sk=wall#!/pages/Say-Gay-Del-Shores-VS-Stacey-Campfield/150233245042451 Please like the page. I'd like to see this debate happen. How cool would that be?

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 22, 2011 11:02:07 PM

  23. And I know everything I learned about being gay I learned in school. Oh wait. No I didn't. I shoplifted books from stores because I was too embarrassed to purchase them. I hid in study carrells at libraries. That was to get any positive information about being gay. The negative info is handed out for free everywhere u look. Including in cartoons. And with all of these bills; seriously, this guy has been wasting 6 years on this? Methinks he doest protest too much?

    Posted by: AJ | Apr 23, 2011 9:03:34 PM

  24. Ugh. He's too cute to be such a crazy, fundamentalist [self-]hater. :(

    Posted by: OMNOMNOM | Apr 25, 2011 6:56:37 PM

  25. I interviewed Campfield for radio yesterday, and blogged about it (and you can hear the interview)here:


    I blog from a parenting perspective, and the parents Campfield claims to be protecting are not being consulted as he pushes through this ridiculous legislation.

    Thanks for covering this story.


    Posted by: Bonnie | Apr 29, 2011 4:44:58 PM

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