in Awareness

Don’t Say Gay

My wife brought to my attention last week that a bill was making it’s way through Tennessee’s Senate that prohibits teachers and staff of grades K-8 from discussing anything “gay” related.

Yes, you read that right. Welcome to the south, everyone.

To quote this Knox News article:

As introduced, the bill would have put into law a declaration that it is illegal to discuss any sexual behavior other than heterosexuality prior to the ninth grade.

But when it came before the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, contended current law already prohibits such instruction by deeming it a misdemeanor to teach any sex education that is not part of the “family life curriculum” adopted by the state Board of Education.

Campfield contends homosexuality is being discussed in classrooms. Spokesmen for the Board of Education and the state Department of Education told the committee they are unaware of any such activity.

This bill has yet to make it to the Full Senate, where, if passed, it would become law. Also, Tennessee already prohibits ANY kind of sex education in grades K-8 – making this even more pointless.

Though, the issue that concerns me isn’t with teaching “gay sex ed” but with the fact that school teachers and staff aren’t allowed to discuss anything “gay-related” at all. If a child needs an adult to talk to about bullying or their own sexuality – they’ll have to look elsewhere.

I encourage you to watch the video above and share your thoughts in the comments below. Here’s to hoping this ridiculous bill doesn’t get any further down the pipeline…

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Add Your Voice



  1. Matt, thanks for your video and for this blog post raising awareness and thinking critically about anti-gay legislation like this in TN. As a straight advocate for my LGBT friends, I’m disheartened when I hear news like this, but I am encouraged (as you mentioned in your video) that public opinion does appear to be shifting nationally to more and more equality and inclusiveness. I hope more straight allies in Tennessee will stand up and let their voices be heard in opposition to discriminatory and backward legislation like this.

    • Thanks for your comment, Steve. I believe we will continue to move toward a much more accepting society and I think it will be up to our generation to TRULY make a difference in legislation on both a national and local level. Having an open dialogue like this is one step of many to get people thinking about these things that are happening in communities all over the country…

  2. I think the fact that we are moving toward a more inclusive society is why we see reactionary legislation like this. It’s so obvious what a ploy this is; it’s clearly not based on anything solid. For instance–what, pray tell, is the difference between saying the word gay to an 8th grader vs. a 9th grader? nnI’m with Steve; as a straight ally, I find this appalling and will certainly be signing the petition that Nancy shared (thanks for that!). I appreciate you sharing this, along with your experience.

    • Agreed that this is reactionary and I appreciate your optimistic perspective on this. It is stupid, but it is a reaction to forward thinking and a movement toward equal rights, which is always a good thing…

  3. Maybe not the stupidest law ever, but in the running. In 5th grade, my daughter commented after visiting a friend, “We went to play at the girl’s house next door. Her parents are lesbians. Are all lesbians rich?” I told her, no, they’re not, in fact a lot of people might think we’re rich. She wanted to know why we didn’t have a pool like the other girl. She was far more interested in why we didn’t have a pool than in why the girl next door had two moms. I don’t get what the POINT of this law is? Obviously kids know gay people exist. nnMy daughter attends a Catholic school and I just asked her whether they teach about gay people in family life education. She said that the teachers don’t bring it up but they have to answer a question if somebody asks about it and somebody always asks a question.nnThis just seems like such a non-issue. There are gay people (duh), kids ask questions and teachers answer them (duh). I trust my kids’ teachers to teach at a level that is developmentally appropriate for them, and four kids later, that trust has been pretty well borne out.

    • It really shouldn’t be about what you can and cannot discuss – it should all go under the umbrella of being an open dialogue. If a child has a question about something, be it gay or straight-related, there should not be any rules against discussing alternative lifestyles. I don’t see what the harm is in discussing homosexuality – and there’s no valid argument that I can see other than one that’s completely homophobic…nnThanks for being a part of this conversation.

  4. I love that you continue to speak out about this issue. I’ll be sharing this piece of news with my students during this up coming week. I really hope Tennessee doesn’t pass this bill. The last thing we need is censorship, for goodness sake.nnI must emphasize again though, that this may not necessarily be a mix of church and state; my dad’s atheist and he’s uncomfortable with homosexuality. I grew up in a Roman Catholic church, and I’m fine with homosexuality. we’re not rare examples either. So if we deconstructed it further, I think the issue goes beyond church and state, especially since homophobia doesn’t merely exist within the church.

    • I realize that may have come out wrong and I don’t want to come across as bashing/hating on any specific religious affiliation. You are correct, at it’s core this is about the homophobic people doing whatever they can to continue on in their close-minded ways. Censorship, however, is a violation of our rights. The question is, if they prohibit this, what’s next? Where will it end? Will we make up rules for every single thing that can and cannot be said to our children?

      • It just shocks me that in a a country like America that positions itself around the world and internally as “The Land of the Free” it is considered ok by the very people that wrap themselves in the american Flag to walk all over their own citizens rights to such an extent.. This so called “Moral Majority” scares the Bejezus out of me. for those who feel complacent on this issue remember this..Today it’s the Gays tomorrow it could be you that they target, because in their eyes you dont fit their narrow and blinkered idea of Family, or American or anything they decide is not in line with their view of the world. Scarey times! nPaulnOut and Proud!

        • It is disturbing yes, but I still genuinely believe we are moving toward a more accepting and truly “free” society. That doesn’t come without it’s obstacles, of course, but I think it’s important to remain optimistic about the future of our culture and what my generation can do to truly make a difference when it comes to equal rights for all.

  5. Wow, ridiculous is really the only word to describe this. Kudos to you for making your voice heard on this issue. It’s horrible how much intolerance still exists in our world. People are so afraid of people and things that are unlike them, and it’s unfortunate to say the least. I truly believe that ignorance is a major contributor to hatred, and prohibiting educators from informing their students about different lifestyles is just wrong. I hope the Tennessee government reconsiders this bill, or at the very least, that parents can make up for the education the school refuses to give to their children.

    • Ignorance and feat are synonymous – we’re all afraid of things we don’t understand, and it’s easier to resist those things that are different instead of embracing them as a part of our society and culture. We’re headed in the right direction, but it’s things like this that make me stop and wonder how people could possibly be so narrow-minded.nnCheck out this video. It’s awesome and we need more folks like this guy to represent our generation of change. for the comment, Sam.