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Opponents slam Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Opponents slam Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

A bill forcing teachers, school nurses and counselors to ‘out’ gay students has been slammed by parents, teachers, rights leaders and even by Republicans.  

State Senator Stacey Campfield, a Republican, introduced SB 49 back in 2012 when it said teachers should not discuss any other sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.

Despite it failing last year, Campfield has introduced the bill once again and added the additional line forcing any adult in a school who counsel’s a child sexuality that poses ‘immediate and urgent safety issues’ should notify the parents as soon as practicable.

In its current format, it does not define what is considered ‘urgent safety issues’ although Campfield has said ‘acts of homosexuality’ are to be considered dangerous to a child’s health.

Campfield says: ‘It’s ridiculous to say we should shield parents from that information about homosexual activity.

‘I think it’s important that, if they’re doing something that’s potentially dangerous or life-threatening, that you should get parents involved.’

Chris Sanders, chairman of the Tennessee Equality Projects, blasted the bill saying it would ‘erode the trust between students and counselors.’

‘It would leave students without any confidential resource in a place where they might be enduring bullying or other issues related to their sexuality, gender, or other factors.’

Speaking to Digital Journal, parent Jerilyn Swindle said if a student wanted to talk to a teacher or counselor about their sexuality, it should be ‘confidential and allowed.’

She said: ‘Especially if the child is afraid their parents may become angry or violent at the knowledge of their child being gay. And this whole outing of children to their parents is a crock.

‘The families that will handle it well don’t need a school to tell them. And a family that won’t handle it well should not be informed of anything until the child is ready to tell them even if it’s never.’

The bill has also faced criticism from Republicans, with Rom Ramsey saying ‘there are some things that should be left inside the family.’ 

Campfield has yet to find a co-sponsor for the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.