Tennessee Senate Approves ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill in 19-11 Vote

Tennessee's Senate has approved Stacey Campfield's hideous "Don't Say Gay" bill which would forbid discussion of homosexuality in classrooms, WMCTV reports:

TN_protest Under the proposal approved 19-11 on Friday, any instruction or materials at a public elementary or middle school will be "limited exclusively to age-appropriate natural human reproduction science." Republican Senate sponsor Stacey Campfield of Knoxville says "homosexuals don't naturally reproduce."

Campfield says current state curriculum is not clear on what can be taught.

The companion bill has been withdrawn from consideration in the House. But its sponsor has said he will bring it up again next year if the Senate version passes.

The bill was the subject of recent protests by the FCKH8 campaign and also a group of students who took their outrage to Tennessee's capitol. Actor George Takei also recorded a video protest of the measure.

In any case, there's another horrible piece of legislation in Tennessee aside from the "Don't Say Gay" bill which got final approval this week. This bill prohibits local municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination statues and would force them to rely on state law. The new law would void a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce lobbied  for the bill. FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare are on that board, notes Americablog.

They have started a campaign to pressure the governor to veto the bill.


  1. Mike8787 says

    I just don’t understand the logic of this. Every court in the country – conservative or liberal judge – will declare this law an insidious violation of the first amendment. Why bother passing it in the first place when you know it will be challenged and lose? Even the policy allowing for speech restrictions based on obscenity need a basis in a common sense of indecency – and the word or concept of “gay” has never come close to that standard.

    Makes me wish the court system could impose sanctions on the legislature for blatantly wasting the judicial system’s time and resources.

  2. rayrayj says

    I just need clarification. Which bill did the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce support, the statewide discrimination bill or the Nashville anti-discrimination ordinance?

    Oh I almost forgot, let the boycotts begin.

  3. Jack M says

    Just because you don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Why do some continue to torture our children by withholding the truth about life from them?

  4. K says

    TCC lobbied for the bill to void Nashville’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Several of those corporations appear on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. I think FedEx got a perfect score. Surprise!

  5. Pointed says

    What does this say to all the gay kids in school who must sit and suffer in silence because they are afraid and now forbidden to talk about it? School counselors can now no longer help a gay student thru emotional challenges, or bullying for that matter. All but a few of this nation’s believers will not quit until we go away (either by presumptive disease or suicide – does not matter to “them” – the more insidious the death the better as far as “they” are concerned). The message being received by gay kids is you are not wanted and please go “off” yourself to get you out of “our” misery. Godspeed (if there is a God) to the kids (and adults) that will follow the wants of “them” and do take their own life. It is tough enough to keep going, but this vitriol is going to kill the weak and weary. And whenever that happens, “they” need to be charged with 1st degree murder.

  6. Francis says

    Well, things have gotten really real now. Clearly, CLEARLY, we are being completely attacked in every which way, in every possible direction, by conservatives who want to do everything in their power to keep us down and shut us up. That’s all any of this is about. Conservatives who hate gays and have made being anti-gay their #1 priority. When all else fails (economy, jobs, the fact Osama was caught under Obama’s watch etc.), where do the conservatives go to in their playbook? Why yes, the hating gays page.

    I don’t know if this is an ignorant question but those business that support the discriminatory business bill, they are representing their own local business, correct? Not like, the entire business itself but the leaders of those businesses in that state? Not that it matters. These companies are going to have hell to pay for this because ultimately, these business leaders are sending the message that these companies are anti-gay.

  7. Rob says

    It appears Tennessee is doing its best to move to the top of the most homophobic states’ list. These right wing politicians and their numerous corporate backers might just make the state the most hateful one in the union. If so, let the lawsuits begin.

  8. Rin says

    My sex education class was 100% about reproduction. Fun wasn’t mentioned at all. I saw an interior cartoon shot of a female uterus and an interior shot of a penis with all the “nodules” described. It wasn’t “sex education”at all.

    I’m guessing sex education has changed, so I wouldn’t have a relative comparison to make.

    They divided us up so there would be no giggling and no embarrassing questions.

    How is this done in public schools outside of Tenn?

    1) do they put heterosexual girls in one room, lesbians in another, gay men in another, and heterosexual guys in another as to avoid the embarrassment and giggling?
    2) do they talk about AIDS and STDs now?

    The private school I taught at had elective sex education, so …I don’t know.

  9. Markles says

    I’m sure most of these companies have a page on Facebook. Perhaps we need to ask them publicly why they support hateful legislation.

  10. Pointed says

    Really, why are we so concerned. After all, we are in the last hours of our existence on this earth. Tomorrow, at 6pm (er….make that 5pm because daylight savings is manmade), in your respective time zones, the rapture begins and we will all take leave of our physical beings and becomes souls that either arise into heaven or that are damned to our fiery demise – for eternity. Thank God.

  11. Go Galt. Please. says

    Republican Senate sponsor Stacey Campfield of Knoxville says “homosexuals don’t naturally reproduce.”

    Yet, somehow, we keep showing up, generation after generation.

  12. steven elliot says

    @ pointed…I wish the hell the rapture would happen. Then maybe us progressives could get some stuff done on this earth without the bothersome fundies interfering!

  13. Disgusted Gay American says

    Where was Joe and the HRC during all this?

    Posted by: Mike | May 20, 2011 1:57:30 PM

    Probably at some Elite Washsington Insider Cocktail party….hoping for some 20th century crumbs in a 21st century america.

  14. gregg says

    Simple, continue the lessons as planned and until this stupid thing is overturned just refer to gay sex as “same sex” or whatever. No reason to stop educating.

  15. BobN says

    I’m assuming that the news story is simplifying its description of the legislation, but…

    “any instruction or materials at a public elementary or middle school will be “limited exclusively to age-appropriate natural human reproduction science”

    … means that sex education and ONLY sex education can be taught at TN schools. No math, no history, no PE, just SEX SEX SEX.

    Wouldn’t that be a hysterical!

  16. Sarah says

    Wow that is so backwards! But sort of not surprising either. I am a Canadian with a friend who has moved to Tenn for the next 3 years. One of the things she found out once she gave birth to her son there was that it is illegal to breast feed an infant over 6 months old in public even if you are coved up…wtf??? This state needs to take a closer look at it’s outdated and ridiculous laws!

  17. blatherer says

    My people left Tennessee 150 years ago in a covered wagon and never looked back.

  18. Andalusian Dog says

    Let it pass. It will go to the State and/or US Supreme Court anyway for violation of first amendment rights, wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars, in this era of balancing state budgets, fiscal austerity, cutting waste, and creating jobs. Liberals: sit back and let the dumbf*ck right write your campaign scripts for your in 2012.

    In the meantime, in TN they should go with George and Just Say Takei.

    It’s very clear that the 1984-style era of legislating, where one’s thoughts and words are being controlled and which started under Reagan and was rarified under Bush il Secondo, is in its death throes. May take 10 years or so, but the writing is on the wall…

    Consider this: it was reported here today that a majority of Americans for the first time support same-sex marriages (between 51 and 53%). The only way for the Don’t Say Gay bill to pass AS WELL AS for those polls to be accurate (which they probably are) is though the lens of regional politics, that is splits between red and blue states. My guess is that the legislators who support the Don’t Say Gay bill will be voted out in very due course and this imbalance will seem less severe following 2012. Wheels are in motion and we just gotta sit tight, protest, be visible, be aware, be vigilant. The rest is on our side now.

  19. Mark says

    Anti-gay legislation like this has nothing to do with majority of public opinion any more. The bigot republicans in the TN state legislature KNOW they’re in the minority with their extreme homophobic views.

    This is about them using power to get their way (which is to impose their socially conservative and archaic rules on the rest of us). It’s very similar to a totalitarian dictatorship: a dictator doesn’t care that people don’t like him. He rules by using power. So the republican legislators couldn’t care less if the majority shares their conservative views or not. Their message to us is “You don’t like my law? So what? This is the way it’s gonna be, cause we’re in charge and that’s the way we like it.”

    Someone here posted “School counselors can now no longer help a gay student thru emotional challenges, or bullying for that matter” When THAT becomes the reality in Tennessee, I say this is no longer the USA land of the free. This is ancient Rome!