Bill Would Threaten Free Speech and Place LGBT Students at Risk
January 31, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NASHVILLE – A Tennessee state senator has introduced a revamped version of last year’s so-called "Don’t Say Gay" bill that places LGBT students at risk and limits teachers' and counselors' free speech. The bill seeks to prohibit discussion about sexual orientation in Tennessee public elementary and middle schools, and could require school staff to inform parents if their child is gay or lesbian.
SB 234 purports to ban any discussion of sexuality "inconsistent with natural human reproduction" by educators in grades K-8. It allows school staff to provide counseling for students they consider to be at risk of engaging in "behavior injurious to physical or mental health and well-being," but requires parents to be notified of that counseling.
"It is reprehensible enough that a member of the legislature has brought back this discriminatory bill to hamper educators' ability to instruct their students or combat bullying," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. "But it’s inexcusable to make counseling professionals out LGBT or questioning young people to family members, when all too many parents physically abuse their LGBT children, force them into quack 'reparative therapy' programs, or kick them out of their homes. This disgraceful bill pays lip service to student safety, but in reality it puts vulnerable young people at terrible risk."
Information about the ACLU of Tennessee is available at: www.aclu-tn.org.