Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; April 20, 2012:
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill has returned from the dead. Despite numerous reports that Rep. Joey Hensley, the sponsor, was not going to move for a vote on the bill, he did just that. The bill passed the House Education Committee by one vote on 4/17/12.
Whether or not Tennessee is embarrassed nationally for passing a bill that fosters discrimination against LGBT people is now in the hands of the House Calendar and Rules Committee.
Though amended, this bill is so tainted by its original wording and intent to ban any discussion of sexual orientation that its passage will still send the wrong message to schoolchildren: that a particular group of people are not worthy of recognition or even mention in their day-to-day lives.
Anti-LGBT bullying is clearly a problem in our schools. Research shows that kids as young as elementary school-age frequently hear the word “gay” used negatively. Do we really want to interfere with educators’ ability to encourage all students to be respectful of one another regardless of sexual orientation—promoting safe schools for all students?
Thank you for standing up for the fair treatment of all Tennesseans.