LGBT ‘Safe Space’ Posters to Remain Down Following TN School Board’s Review of Anti-Bullying Policy

TN Safe Space

You may recall last month's backlash facing middle Tennessee's Rutherford County Board of Education and its decision to remove all of GLSEN's 'Safe Space' posters from classrooms on the grounds that the poster's content was too 'political' and 'sexual' because it contained the words 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.'

With both the state and national American Civil Liberties Union having spoken out against the homophobic policy, the school board held a meeting Wednesday night to gage public opinion on the issue and discuss a potential review of the policy. The Daily News Journal reports board members told the standing-room-only crowd at the meeting that they will study the district's anti-bullying policy but took no further action

Odom"We have a desire to protect the interests of all students in our school system," said Don Odom (pictured), director of Rutherford County Schools. "Our staff attorney, Jeff Reed, will look at the policy to see if there are changes to be made in order to make (the policies) more inclusive."

The teacher from whose classroom the poster was removed, Allen Nichols, spoke at the meeting and said that the issue here is more than just anti-bullying resources for students. At stake are the free speech rights of students, a notion that senior Bethany Howard appreciated was being kept in mind.

"It means so much to me that Mr. Nichols has taken a stand for student speech," Howard said. "This is a very charged issue, and it's not often that someone takes a stand like he has. And I've never heard him talk about his personal beliefs on politics, religion or any social issues."

Others at the meeting, however, spoke out against Nichols and the poster. Penny Johnson, director for Parents for Truth in Education, said she thought the posters unfairly privileged one group of students over others.

"We have to treat all children from all aspects equally and fairly," said Johnson. "By putting a special poster up for specific group in that area, you're giving them special treatment regarding bullying."

Considering LGBT teens are disproportionately targeted for bullying in schools, I wouldn't exactly consider the poster "special treatment." 88% of LGBT students in Tennessee have been verbally harassed and 43% have been physically harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's "2011 Tennessee State Snapshot"


  1. says

    Penny Johnson Translation: “i just don’t like those gays and those weird kids! how DARE you suggest that they’re special. i mean, that hurting them is special. i mean…oh, i don’t know what i mean. but i don’t like them so i need to find an excuse to say why…”


  2. northalabama says

    rutherford county, even being so close to a city the size of nashville, and with a major university, has always been backwards and rural.

    the explosion of growth it’s seen over the past twenty years has left many behind, and they have yet to catch up. it’s past time they move into the 20th century, but change can be slow.

  3. Sean says

    The parents of those children should refuse to pay taxes and if the fascist TN government continues to steal their money while refusing to protect their children then those parents should take it back in other ways such as a brand new computer for their home right from the school’s computer lab or library.

  4. john patrick says

    Are they going to now approve signs that say “This is an unsafe place for LGBT students,” so the students will know where they stand? Will they now pass a Russian type rule to “protect students from LGBT propaganda”? I hope this goes to court and the school board gets nailed to the wall if they don’t relent and approve the posters. No student should have to feel unsafe in school. No student should have to feel that the board that is supposed to oversee their safety and their education considers them unworthy and less than human simply because some religious bigots don’t like them.

  5. terry says

    TN is the monkey trial state after all. Should we really be surprised by their backward, ignorant behavior? They are vile people and they disgust me. I’m a teacher and know how important it is for kids to have a safe space. Schools are not safe for gay kids and adults don’t care. The shame is that they are unaware that their own kids may in fact be gay and are at risk.

  6. Steve says

    A bunch of dumb country yokels winning some election with a few thousand votes at most and suddenly think they are important. That could describe most rural school boards.

  7. David says

    “…just like the other 49. if there were any state without hate or bigotry, now that would be a headline….POSTED BY: NORTHALABAMA…”

    Hey BAMA; You are a liar.

    There is a difference between states that have bigots in it, and states RUN BY bigots.

    But then we can’t expect MORONS to understand that huge difference in your little poor bigot-controlled state.

    Those of us in California, a state that does NOT tolerate political bigots, as well as bigots in the voting booth, we hope that YOU stay forever simming in your bigot state…forever.

    Freakin’ trolls.

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