Republicans in Tennessee are proposing a bill that would prevent students from learning about homosexuality in public elementary and middle schools.

The bill states: “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

State Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn are sponsoring the bill, and say it should be up to parents whether or not their children learn about homosexuality, rather than teachers in classrooms “where other children may be present”.

The Tennessee Equality Project, who recently received $10,000 from the Human Rights Campaign, is lobbying against the proposal. TEP chair, Ben Byers, told WVLT-TV: “It raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free-speech and government overreach.”

Mr Byers also said it prevents teachers discussing gay issues with students who may be gay or have gay family.

Similar legislation was introduced in the UK in 1988. Section 28 of the Local Government Act prevented schoolteachers from educating children about homosexuality, and “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”, but it was repealed in Scotland in 2000, and the rest of the UK in 2003.

The Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips criticised the government last month for backing efforts to “brainwash” children because of plans to be more inclusive of LGBT people in lessons.