Here is the text of the proposed bill....
(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity.
Senator Campfields Office released the following statement in a press release...(2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.
"It's the family's responsibility and not someone with an agenda - one way or the other. The bill is neutral. We should leave it to families to decide when it is appropriate to talk with children about sexuality - specifically before the eighth grade."I for one, would believe in the validity of Sen. Campfields opinion on this issue - that the family should talk with children about sensitive issues of sexuality - if in fact the bill forbade ALL mentions of orientation. This would mean no discussion on mommy's and daddy's, no discussion about marriage, no discussion about having crushes, nothing! But does the bill do this? Of course not, for to do that would be completely ridiculous. Family structures, orientation, and love all are discussed in the classroom at almost all levels of education., maybe not graphic details of sex - but at least teachers talk about what makes a family and how people fall in love.
But does this bill eliminate any discussion about sexual orientation? No, it only eliminates the discussion when it comes to any orientation OTHER THAN heterosexuality. That alone gives the impression that the government does have the authority to talk about sexual orientation; but only that orientation which is deemed "normal" by society. Thus, this bill ostracizes a large minority of children within Tennessee, telling them that they are not normal.
What are the ramifications of this bill? Would it bar school counselors from assisting a child who might be bullied because of his sexual orientation? Would this bill, overall, bar schools from implementing anti-bullying programs that deal with sexual orientation? Based upon its wording it sure seems like it.
Not only will this bill have noticeable effects on LGBT youths and their self-worth by telling them that they are not normal, but it reinforces the idea that Tennessee is a backward portion of the nation. While school districts all across the country are implementing programs to protect their students and their sexual orientation from harassment, Tennessee is going in the opposite direction - sweeping the issue under the rug because some parents may feel uncomfortable with reality. When someones feelings take precedence over someones safety - especially the safety of a child - there is a big problem.