A Tennessee Senate committee has approved a bill that would prohibit the discussion of sexual minorities in public schools, KnoxNews.com reported.
Republican state Senator Stacey Campfield’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill seeks to limit sexual discussions in elementary and middle schools to heterosexuality.
Supporters say the bill is about promoting age appropriate curriculum.
“If we’re talking about homosexuality, we are talking about specific acts that are going to be unhealthy for anybody to engage in outside of marriage,” Matthew Parsons, founder of the socially conservative group Something Better, told the local CBS affiliate.
The measure, which was approved along a 6-3 party line vote, has been modified from the original version Campfield began pushing six years ago in the House.
The new language proposes adoption of the ban after the Board of Education studies whether any instruction on homosexuality is occurring.
In 2008, the 42-year-old unmarried Campfield made clear his motivations: “We’re not going to teach about homosexuality, the homosexual lifestyle, the lesbian lifestyle, the transgender lifestyle.”
Ben Byers of the Tennessee Equality Project opposes the measure because “It limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom.”
“It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have [a] gay family,” he said.
Campfield has previously introduced controversial legislation, including a bill to issue death certificates for aborted fetuses.
Fellow Republican Bill Dunn has sponsored the measure in the House, and is a member of the Education Committee his bill has been assigned to.
Republicans control both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly.