After being postponed for several weeks, the Tennessee House Education Committee is again set to address the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill today, which would ban schools from ever discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-8. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has reiterated his opposition, calling the bill a distraction and Rep. Joey Hensley’s (R) efforts to advance it a waste of time:
HASLAM: He knows and understands that, as I’ve said before, is not something I think is particularly helpful or needed right now. Again, I think the state already has rules in place about what can be taught.
Hensley, meanwhile, seems convinced that if he continues to tweak the bill, he can make it somehow palatable, though none of the changes made so far have actually altered its function. For example, the big change he made was to remove the section that banned providing “any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality” and replace it with a provision that limits all teaching to “natural human reproduction science.” The obvious inference, as Hensley has clarified, is that this still rules out any instruction on same-sex orientations because only heterosexual couples can reproduce.
Either way, Hensley is trying to erase LGBT youth from Tennessee schools. As long as that is his goal, there’s nothing he can do to polish this bill to make it any less dangerous or offensive.