A Tennessee House subcommittee on
Wednesday overwhelmingly approved state Senator Stacey Campfield's
“Don't Say Gay” bill, the Tennessean
The proposed legislation would outlaw
the discussion of sexual minorities in Tennessee's public schools
before the ninth grade.
A last-minute amendment offered last
year by Republican Senator Kerry Roberts helped the bill clear the
Senate with a 20-10 vote.
The amendment strikes out language that
limited the discussion of sexual orientation to heterosexuality
before the ninth grade, replacing it with language that limits the
discussion to “natural human reproduction science.” Campfield
said the language would stamp out discussion of homosexuality since
gay people cannot reproduce.
Say Gay” Stacey Campfield denied service over anti-gay views.)
The subcommittee amended the House bill
with similar language before approving the measure on a voice vote
and sending it to the full Education Committee, which could act on the
bill as soon as next week.
The amendment was offered by the bill's
original sponsor in the House, Rep. Bill Dunn.
“What this amendment does is keep us
in line with current curriculum,” Dunn told colleagues. “This
bill, if amended, does not prohibit the use of the word 'gay,' it
does not change the anti-bullying statute, and it does not prohibit a
school guidance counselor from discussing the issues of sexuality
with a student.”
The Rev. Thomas Kleiner, pastor of Vine
Street Christian Church in Nashville, testified against the bill,
saying it was unnecessary and “potentially harmful.”
Kleiner noted that television programs
such as the ABC sitcom Modern Family, which prominently
features a gay male couple raising their daughter, are being watched
by children, who might have questions on the subject of sexuality.
Rep. Joey Hensley, the subcommittee
chair and sponsor of the bill in the House, said he did not think
that Modern Family was an “appropriate” show for children.
Only one panel member, Democratic Rep.
Craig Fitzhugh, opposed the measured.
“It looks to me like a solution
looking for a problem,” he said.