Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Now Requires Teachers To Inform Parents If Their Child Is Gay

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"Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Now Requires Teachers To Inform Parents If Their Child Is Gay"

Tennessee’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ bill died with the adjournment of the state assembly last year. But now the measure is back — with new, harsher requirements.

The bill, SB 234, still bars Tennessee teachers from discussing any facet of “non-heterosexual” sexuality with children in grades K-8. But the newest iteration also includes a provision requiring teachers or counselors to inform the parents of some students who identify themselves as LGBT. State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R), who authored the bill the first time around and again introduced it this time, calls out students who might be “at risk,” but leaves the interpretation of that behavior to the teacher:

The general assembly recognizes that certain subjects are particularly sensitive and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the home. Because of its complex societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications, human sexuality is one such subject. Human sexuality is best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp its complexity and implications […]

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 well-being 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

Family rejection is a serious risk for LGBT youth. Kids who are LGBT often face alienation, if not outright abandonment, because they come out. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBT, and many of them report that the reason they left home was to escape an environment hostile to their sexual orientation. LGBT youth who experience family rejection are at high risk for depression and suicide.

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