‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Won’t Be Put to Vote This Year as State Promises to Tell Schools Not to Touch the Topic

Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, says he is shelving Tennessee's "Don't Say Gay" bill for the current legislative session based on the opposition "of some people who didn't want to vote on it" and a promise from the State Department of Education and Board of Education to direct schools via letter not to teach about homosexuality in grades K-8, the Knox News reports:

Joey_HensleyThe bill passed the Senate last year and recently won approval in modified form from the House Education Committee on an 8-7 vote. It needed only the approval of the Calendar Committee, usually a routine matter, to be set for a floor vote.

Hensley said nickname the bill received "really wasn't what the bill was all about" and contributed to unease of some legislators in voting on the measure. He said the bill could be re-filed next year if there is any indication of "alternate lifestyles" being prompted in Tennessee schools despite the pending letter.

The operative language of the amended version says that in grades K-8 any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited."


  1. sara says

    @Laura really? This was eons ago but I was getting sex ed from 6th grade on and we still had a 13 year old get pregnant. If you’re waiting until high school for sex ed, it’s a little too late.

    I know the law didn’t pass but how strictly are the schools going to abide by this Department of Education letter? Is the school going to refuse to discuss it if a child comes to them in one of those lower grades and say they’re being bullied for being gay? Does this mean that certain books can’t be read if it has gay characters in them as more and more mainstream books have. There are books for kids on gay adoption or stories from kindergarden up that feature alternative families. Is that now banned from the elementary and middle schools? Even without the law, I think school officials and teachers are going to be leery when gay issues come up.

  2. Fenrox says

    They don’t have that provision that stops teachers from bringing it up, just not having any materials. Here is my question, Shouldn’t they have to explain to kids what “natural human reproduction” is? They have to qualify natural, which means they need to not only tell kids about sex but allude to one specific pairing as good and others as bad.

  3. R says

    The median aged guy who comes out nowadays come out at about 14.5 years of age. That means half of guys are coming out *younger*, too.

    Therefore, it’s imperative we teach middle-school aged kids about basic GLBT issues, including a) what sexual orientation is, b) the fact that it’s recognized as normal and common, and c) the fact that it’s important to respect everyone, no matter how they identify.

    This isn’t rocket science.

    We didn’t teach very much about sex ed when I was in middle school on GLBT issues, but thankfully we went over the basics. It was incredibly helpful to me to know that it was a) normal and b) that statistically, between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 people were gay, lesbian or bisexual.

    I didn’t have anyone at home to go over that stuff, and I didn’t know WHAT I was at that age… I just had questions and feelings awakening, that I may not have otherwise fully accepted or understood as well as I did. It was helpful just to have someone say that those feelings were normal.

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