Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sen. Campfield refiles Don't Say Gay bill. Is it any better?

Sen. Stacey Campfield has refiled the infamous Don't Say Gay bill.  He calls SB234 the "Classroom Protection Act," although on the summary page it is called the "Child Protection Act."

Rally at the Capitol in 2012
Protect children and classrooms from what or whom?  That's the obvious question. 

The real answer is "the gays," of course.  The language in the bill indicates it's to protect children and classrooms from anything that is "inconsistent with natural human reproduction," which "shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited." 

The bill's language represents an effort by Sen. Campfield to respond to the objections that frequently arose over the last few years, viz., that it directly showed bias to any sexuality other than heterosexuality, that it had a chilling effect on children's conversations with teachers and counselors (we'll get to that in a minute), and that it paradoxically required the teaching of sex education and nothing but sex education in grades K-8. 

Sen. Campfield has attempted to take care of these objections with various clauses in the new bill.  But did he succeed?

Required Sex Ed:  I'll give him credit on one point.  He dealt with the last objection in the language of the new bill with his last clause:  "Nothing in this section shall be construed to require instruction relative to natural reproduction in grades pre-K though 8."  The amendment to the old bill seemed to require teaching sex education in these grades, which conflicted with existing policy.  He's dealt with that.  Fair enough.

Bias Persists:  But the bill still shows bias and animus to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people by labeling us "inconsistent with natural human reproduction" and "inappropriate for the intended student audience."  The purpose of the bill is clear--to erase our community in grades K-8. 

Counselors become informers:  What about the chilling effect on counseling when a student has personal questions of identity that need to be explored with care and discretion?  Here's where the bill may fool a lot of people. 

(c) LEA policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this section shall
not prohibit:
(1) Any instructor from answering in good faith any question or
series of questions, germane and material to the course, asked of the
instructor and initiated by a student or students enrolled in the course;
(2) A school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal from
counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of
engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and wellbeing
of the student or another person; provided, that wherever possible
such counseling shall be done in consultation with the student's parents
or legal guardians. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive
such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such
counseling has occurred; or
(3) Any school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal
from responding appropriately to a student whose circumstances present
immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality. Parents
or legal guardians of such students shall be notified as soon as
practicable of the circumstances requiring intervention; provided, notice
shall not be given to any parent or legal guardian if there is reasonable
cause to believe that the parent or legal guardian may be the perpetrator
or in any way responsible for sexual abuse of the student.

Sounds good, right?  Counselors can address these questions with students.  The bill doesn't prohibit the discussion. 


...the bill actually seems to force counselors to become tattletales.  They have to inform the parents after counseling takes place.  That requirement will erode the trust between students and counselors and leave students without any confidential resource in a place where they might be enduring bullying or other issues related to their sexuality, gender, or other factors. 

Students and school personnel are not well served by this dangerous bill.

1 comment:

Tom Cogburn said...

I REALLY appreciate the time and effort you have put into taking this bill apart, piece by piece, to show us what it really says.

One very small thing I would like to know, however, is the author(s) name(s).

It's such a great piece!