A bill nicknamed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ that aims to prohibit teachers from discussing any sexuality except heterosexuality until students have completed grade eight has been resurrected in Tennessee.
The bill proposed by Republican State Senator Stacey Campfield, entitled officially ‘Classroom Protection Act’, prohibits elementary and middle school teachers from discussing sexual activity that is not related to ‘natural human reproduction’. It even bans the acknowledgment that homosexuality exists.
A new provision in the bill would require teachers to out students to their parents if they might be or are LGBT.
The bill stipulates that school counsellors, nurses, principals and assistant principals can talk to students about human sexuality if a student is ‘engaging in, or may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person’.
The measure also provides that ‘Parents or legal guardians of such students shall be notified as soon as practicable of the circumstances requiring intervention’.
According to the site ThinkProgress, the ambiguous wording could empower school authorities to determine when and where to out the child’s sexuality to their parents.
ThinkProgress also warned that family rejection of a child’s sexuality is a major cause of depression, suicide attempts and homelessness among LGBT youth.
It cited a study by the Williams Institute that found that up to 40% of homeless teens identify as LGBT.
The legislation’s ambiguous wording also appears to endorse so-called conversion therapy.
It mentions ‘counselling’ for ‘injurious’ ‘behavior’.
This could be interpreted as supporting gay ‘cure’ therapy which attempts to turn people straight – even thought such ‘therapy’ is discredited and harmful.
The bill has been stalled in the state legislature since March 2012 but has been resurrected in the current session.