Some Tennessee lawmakers want to scale back the clock on equality and make it particularly difficult for LGBT residents in the Volunteer State. For proof, check out this Change.org petition from the Tennessee Equality Project. It talks to the “Special Access to Discriminate Act” (SB0630) currently on the table, which would prohibit local governments from enacting non-discrimination provisions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of government contractors.
You see, Tennessee doesn’t want you to use the word “gay.” House Bill 225 and State Bill 49 — also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — would prohibit kids from learning about LGBT people. Specifically, it states that “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.”
The law would also prohibit any talk about LGBT topics. It does not matter if the person involved is gay themselves or the product of a gay home. It does not matter if they have a gay friend or family member. No talking about the pink triangle.
“The Don’t Say Gay bill raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free speech and government overreach,” said Ben Byers from the Tennessee Equality Project. “It limits what teachers and students are able to discuss in the classroom,” Byers said. “It means they can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have gay family.”
This also prevents educators from an extremely important job; stopping potential anti-GLBT bullying. There have been several “teaching moments” (as we call them) where I have stopped the class to discuss something someone said as a “joke.” It helps raise awareness that homosexuality is not weird, unusual, or unnatural and prevents a lot of bullying. It’s moments like these, moments that promote tolerance and understanding, that this legislation is attempting to squash.