The so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which would have interdicted elementary and middle school teachers from discussion of homosexuality and gender identity, looks set to be dropped without a vote, after a key Republican sponsor announced that he simply would not bring it up, local media organisations report.

According to Knoxville News Sentinel, which first broke the news, Republican Joey Hensley has had assurances from the Department of Education and the state Board of Education that they would send a letter to all schools in the state, ordering them not to “teach this subject in grades kindergarden through eight.” He added: “With that assurance and the opposition of some people who didn’t want to vote on it, I’ve decided simply not to bring it up.”

Now, the bill, which passed the Senate last year, and passed through the House Education Committee last month, is expected to be dropped later today.

The statement of the bill was that “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”

In April, the bill drew national attention when Republican Dwight Scharnhorst compared homosexuality to bestiality, and said: “There is no need to talk about Billy wanting to marry a goat.”

Mr Hensley said that while he thought the moniker ‘Don’t Say Gay’ was not what the bill was about, he said he would re-file the bill next year, should there be any indication of ‘alternative lifestyles’ being discussed in state schools.

In March, the governor of the state signed into law a measure that allowed teachers to challenge the “scientific weaknesses” of such topics as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”