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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Renewing his License to Bully, Rep. John Ragan picks up House companion to Don't Say Gay bill

Rep. John Ragan of Anderson County filed the House companion bill (HB1332)  to Sen. Stacey Campfield's Don't Say Gay bill today. 

Rep. Ragan is well known for his condescending comments to citizens about last year's License to Bully bill, most famously to Kristin Johnson.  So few people who have been following these issues over the last year will be surprised that Rep. Ragan has signed on as the House sponsor.

Even though the Associated Press reported a few weeks ago that Governor Bill Haslam, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell have all distanced themselves from the bill, Rep. Ragan is either oblivious to or indifferent to the bill's harm to children and to the image of the state.

TEP is urging citizens to call on Rep. Ragan to withdraw the House companion bill.  You can do so at this petition that sends a message to Rep. Ragan.  You may also call Rep. Ragan's office and leave a message asking him to withdraw the bill at 615-741-4400.  State your name and address and ask him to withdraw HB1332.

Let's preserve the confidential relationship of trust between counselors and students and not give in to this hateful bill that hurts real people and hurts the image of Tennessee.

Friday, February 1, 2013

TEP Supports Dignity for All Students Act

All students deserve to be treated
with dignity in Tennessee.
On Jan 31, Senator Jim Kyle of Shelby County filed a bill that would strengthen current anti-bullying policy by clearly identifying common factors that become the focus of bullying in schools:
"Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” also includes any written, verbal, or physical conduct that substantially interferes with a student's educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, and that is based, all or in part, on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, academic achievement, sexual orientation, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or physical appearance of either the student or a person with whom the student has an actual or perceived association. 
SB1124 also empowers school administrators, teachers and other school staff by defining the important role they play in preventing harassment, intimidation and bullying of students.

Lastly, local education authorities (LEAs), are encouraged to review anti-bullying policies at least once every three years and to share updates with the Commissioner of Education.

By expanding the definition of bullying, the Dignity for All Students Act will provide clear guidance to educators on prohibited forms of bullying. The proposed law will empower educators to define acceptable conduct, promote a safer environment for students at school and promote academic achievement.

We give thanks to bill sponsor Senator Jim Kyle for introducing this legislation. This model legislation provides an important contrast to previous bills proposed in the Tennessee legislature (License to Bully and Don't Say Gay) which sought to marginalize and ostracize certain students. We urge all Tennesseans to contact their lawmakers and urge their support of the Dignity for All Students Act.

- Jonathan Cole