Tennessee Legislators Introduce Their Own ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

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Senate Bill 1216 and House Bill 800, sponsored by state Senator Frank S. Nicely (R.) and Representative Bruce Griffey (R.), would prohibit educational providers from using textbooks and other materials “that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles.”

Lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced a bill that would ban discussions and material on sexual orientation and gender identity in school classrooms. 

Senate Bill 1216 and House Bill 800, sponsored by state Senator Frank S. Nicely (R.) and Representative Bruce Griffey (R.), would prohibit educational providers from using textbooks and other materials “that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles.” The bill would also prevent the state board of education, and other governing bodies, from recommending or adopting such material. 

The bill is one of many in the state legislature that, if passed into law, could limit the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. A trio of bills sponsored by Republican lawmakers would allow the state to withhold funding to any school that does not acknowledge a student’s sex as assigned at birth “for the purposes of participation in school sports,” and would prevent trans minors from participating on sports teams that correspond to their gender identity. Another specifies that teachers would not be required to use a student’s preferred pronouns if those do not align with their assigned birth sex. 

The efforts of Tennessee lawmakers to restrict LGBTQ+ content in schools, and to impose limitations on transgender youth, are part of a nationwide trend by Republican lawmakers to enforce similar restrictions in their states. Similar legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, recently passed through a Florida Senate committee this week

The bills are also part of a broader trend across the country by conservative lawmakers to limit or restrict material pertaining to progressive social movements, and to give parents greater control over the content that schools are allowed to teach. 

Tennessee, specifically, sparked controversy last month after a school board banned the graphic novel, “Maus” for containing inappropriate material. 


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