Tennessee’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill yesterday was placed on hold after lawmakers realized that the bill was not only unnecessary from their own standpoint, but counterproductive as well. In grades K -8, the bill would have made it illegal to discuss homosexuality in any manner at all, and allow only the discussion of heterosexual reproduction.
Lawmakers put a hold on the bill upon learning — after more than two years of debate — that Tennessee does not have sex education classes in grades K – 8.
“We found out there really is not sex education curriculum in K-8 right now,” GOP Rep. Bill Dunn, one of the bill’s sponsors said yesterday.
Further, given the bill’s wording, many were led to believe that teachers would feel encouraged to discuss sex in grades K – 8 were it to become law, in direct contradiction to their strong abstinence-only education policies.
Zack Ford at Think Progress notes:
A new report from the Williams Institute examines the “Don’t Say Gay” bill’s harmful impacts:
- Hostile environments created by bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender nonconformity lead to adverse health effects for LGBT youth.
- Anti-gay stigma has been shown to be related to increases in violence against LGBT youth and adults, as well as to lower levels of health.
- Harassment based on sexual orientation and gender nonconformity is widespread with LGBT youth at heightened risk.
- Research shows that states and locales that promote LGBT-inclusive school policies help reduce teen suicide, and enhance the health and well-being of LGBT youth.
- Laws with negative and discriminatory impact on the LGBT community could have a negative economic impact for business and the state economy.
“Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, nonetheless is still pressing for a vote on the bill this year,” The Tennessean reports. “If he gets it, and if it passes the Senate, Campfield told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he hopes it’ll lead the House to take the measure up next year.”
Senator Stacey Campfield, you’ll remember, has made headlines internationally for his senate ”Don’t Say Gay” bill, SB-49, and for his public comments about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS, including saying it is “virtually impossible” to contract HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex.
So, for now, Tennessee lawmakers are holding off moving forward on their “Don’t Say Gay” bill and are taking up their next bill: strengthening their abstinence-only education laws.
I kid you not.
Image via Flickr.
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