A proposal to amend Title 49 of the Tennessee Code with regard to the discussion and instruction of gender orientation in the classroom is causing controversy, inciting satire and provoking theatrics. Senate Bill 234, sponsored by Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield from Knoxville, aims to amend the Classroom Protection Act by adding a section that would essentially prohibit the introduction of any educational materials “inconsistent with natural human reproduction” in classrooms from preschool and kindergarten through the eighth grade.
Senate Bill 234, which has been nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” since it started making the rounds in the Tennessee legislature six years ago, is the latest attempt from Senator Campfield to push an agenda that would not only make it illegal to mention same-gender preference in the classroom before the ninth grade but would also require teachers to inform parents about non-heterosexual tendencies among students.
Senator Campfield’s repeated attempts over the years at amending Title 49 of the Tennessee Code have not made it very far in the legislative process, but they have managed to attract controversy and media attention. Senator Campfield’s remarks about homosexuality being a dangerous act comparable to the intravenous administration of heroin have made headlines, as well as his unwillingness to believe that sex education has a place in the classroom.
As in his previous bills, this one retains its proposed ban on classroom discussions related to all LGBT issues. There is also a provision which could be interpreted as requiring school officials to inform parents if they believe a child is gay.
The problem is that the wording leaves teachers with a lot of subjective interpretation before determining if a given situation requires notifying parents of their child’s sexuality. That type of potential (mis)interpretation will likely lead to numerous lawsuits, wasting countless dollars better utilized for education.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district legal issue.