Anger over Tennessee’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill
The US Senator who introduced a bill to ban discussion of homosexuality in schools says he has received hundreds of angry letters from parents around the world.
Republican Stacey Campfield’s bill, if approved, will ban all teachers in public elementary and middle schools from talking about the subject.
The legislation, known as the ‘don’t say gay bill’, has been compared to the UK’s Section 28 law, which was repealed in 2003.
Last week, it passed a Senate education panel. It will soon go to the Senate floor for a vote.
Mr Campfield claims his bill is neutral and is not anti-gay.
In an interview with CNN, he said: “My bill is neutral. It doesn’t say anybody can speak for it or against it. So, I’m sure people wouldn’t want someone coming out and saying, you know, there are some people who say, you know, we should be preaching against it and saying it’s evil, dirty and wrong, or some people say hey, it’s great, wonderful thing.”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he added. “Like I said, I think we need to let the families decide that.”
Mr Campfield has been pushing for the law for years.
According to On Top magazine, he compared homosexuality to bestiality during an interview in 2009.
Speaking to Sirius XM’s Michelangelo Signorile, he said: “If I want to talk about the bestiality movement, do you think we should be teaching that?”
Mr Campfield also claimed that homosexuality was a “learned behaviour”.
The Tennessee Equality Project said the bill could lead to more gay teen suicides.
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“We believe it’s a ploy to advance a social agenda into the classroom,” chairman Jonathan Cole told FoxNews.com.
“And we think it will create an unsafe environment for kids who may be gay, lesbian, transgender or just have questions.”
He added that it would prevent anti-bullying initiatives and ban counsellors from speaking to children who are worried about their sexuality.
“So if they witness a kid being bullied because of sexual orientation, how will they be able to deal with that?” he said.
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children about homosexuality, and “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”, but it was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in the rest of the UK in 2003.