“These bills are indicative of a larger threat we’re seeing emerge in state legislatures across the country,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “National anti-LGBT organizations have found that their fringe messages are no longer resonating with mainstream Americans, so they’re instead turning to extremist state legislators to carry out their work. This is legislation that stigmatizes and ostracizes LGBT youth, and says that it’s ok to treat LGBT people as second-class citizens. These bills represent a methodical war on critical supports for LGBT youth, and we must ensure they never become law.”
“These bills – particularly the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – send the message to our state’s youth that there is something wrong with whom they are. That this message is coming from those elected to serve the best interests of all Tennesseans makes it all the more disturbing,” said Jonathan Cole, TEP Co-Chair. “We urge Governor Haslam and our state’s legislative leaders to speak out against these discriminatory bills and refocus their efforts on things that really matter – creating jobs and strengthening our state’s economy.”
The most imminent and destructive of these three bills is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which has passed the full State Senate and the House Education Committee. HRC is calling on its members and supporters to add their voice to those calling on Governor Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell to kill the dangerous “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. The bill is now headed to the House Calendar and Rules Committee before receiving a House floor vote.
As originally drafted, the bill says “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.” An amended version now prohibits “classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction.”
The Tennessee Equality Project is Tennessee’s only statewide organization dedicated to the protection and expansion of the rights of LGBT Tennesseans. Learn more about TEP at www.tnep.org.