Tag Archives: don’t say gay

Tenn. senator wants schools to notify parents of ‘homosexual’ activity

A Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation that would require schools to inform a student’s parents if the child is engaging in “homosexual” activity.

Under the measure sponsored by state Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, a school counselor, nurse or principal can inform parents if their children’s “circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality.”

Campfield told reporters on that he considers the “act of homosexuality” to be dangerous to a child’s health and safety.

The measure is part of a proposal, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that Campfield passed in the Senate in 2011, but the companion bill failed in the House last year.

The proposal would ban the teaching of gay issues to elementary and middle school students.

Campfield says the current legislation has a House sponsor and he’s optimistic about its passage.

Last year, in a radio interview discussing his anti-gay campaign, Campfield said HIV and AIDS originated from a man having sex with a monkey and that “it is virtually … impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.”

That remark prompted him to be ejected from a popular brunch bistro in Knoxville.

Missouri rep comes out, denounces anti-gay bill

A Republican Missouri House member who previously served in the U.S. Air Force came out as gay and called upon GOP leaders in the state Legislature to withdraw a bill that would limit discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. 

Rep. Zachary Wyatt, a 27-year-old cattle farmer from the rural northern Missouri town of Novinger, said on May 2 that the legislation had motivated him to disclose his sexual orientation publicly for the first time.

Wyatt was joined by nine other Democratic and Republican lawmakers in denouncing Missouri legislation that would prohibit teaching, extracurricular activities or materials that discuss sexual orientation, unless they relate to the scientific facts about human reproduction. 

“I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality,” Wyatt said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “I am still the same person that I was when I woke up this morning and I will be the same person when I go to bed tonight. Today I ask you to stand with me as a proud Republican, a proud veteran and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids addressing bullying in our schools.” 

Wyatt is not running for re-election in Missouri because he plans to move to Hawaii and study marine biology. 

A spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that backs gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual candidate, said Wyatt is the only openly gay Republican in the nation who is currently serving in a state legislature. Other gay Republicans have served in state legislatures in the past. Two other members of the Missouri House, both Democrats from urban areas, are openly homosexual. One Democratic Missouri state senator is also openly lesbian. 

The Missouri bill appears unlikely to pass before the session ends May 18. It was referred to a House education committee last month and has not received a hearing. But the legislation has generated attention and controversy. Comedian Stephen Colbert recently mocked it on his cable TV show. 

Opponents have dubbed the legislation the “don’t say gay” bill. They contend it could forbid teachers from uttering the words “gay” or “lesbian” in the classroom or talking about bullying that gay and lesbian students face from their peers. The legislation also appears to forbid school-sponsored “gay-straight alliance” groups, which advocate for gay and lesbian rights. 

The lawmakers at Wednesday’s news conference called for the sponsor of the bill to withdraw the legislation. 

But Rep. Steve Cookson said he won’t do that. Cookson, a Republican from the rural southern Missouri town of Fairdealing, said he believes parents and family members, not schools, should teach children about different kinds of sexuality. 

“Those are personal issues that probably should be taught by people outside the school system,” he said. “We need to be focusing on what is going to provide students with the skills they need to be productive citizens in our society.” 

Cookson insisted his bill does not explicitly ban the mention of specific words. He did not say whether he intends to ban school-sponsored “gay-straight alliance” groups. 

“I think we’re headed into some very tricky waters there,” Cookson said. “There could be all kinds of different groups that could want to be sponsored by a school, and some of them you may think are good groups and some of them you may think are bad groups.”

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.

‘Don’t say gay’ bill stalls in Tennessee

The Tennessee House sponsor of a proposal to ban the teaching of gay issues to elementary and middle school students delayed the measure this week to allow lawmakers to consider a more comprehensive bill.

The legislation, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was up in the House Education Committee. It seeks to limit all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Republican Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald acknowledged there are problems with the measure and once again delayed it so lawmakers can review another proposal that would place restrictions on “family life education” curricula taught in schools.

Rep. Jim Gotto is the sponsor of that legislation. The Hermitage Republican said in an interview that he didn’t intend for the bill to be an alternative to Hensley’s, but rather to address Tennessee’s high ranking for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Gotto said the proposal would allow the teaching of safe sex, but the curriculum would have to be “abstinence-centered,” emphasizing that abstinence is withholding from “any kind of sexual contact.”

“We have been teaching sex education now for several years, and apparently the way we’re teaching it now is not working,” he said. “This is an attempt to try to tweak the law so that going forward it will work. This is much more comprehensive.”

Under the proposal, a family life education curriculum also would “encourage students to communicate with a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult about sex or other risk behaviors.”

A parent or guardian can file a complaint with the director of schools if there’s speculation that “a teacher, instructor, or representative of an organization has not complied with the requirements of this bill,” according to the legislation.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has not commented about the family life proposal, but he has publically stated he doesn’t think the “Don’t Say Gay” proposal is needed.

“I think the Board of Education is more than willing to send out reminders to teachers about … what the boundaries are there,” Haslam told reporters this week. “So, I’m not sure it’s a helpful conversation, or that it’s even a needed conversation.”

Opponents of the measure say the measure would prevent teachers and others from speaking out against the bullying of gay teens.

Eric Patton went to the Capitol complex in Nashville on March 13 to oppose the proposal. The 21-year-old believes there are more important issues for lawmakers to focus on, such as job creation.

“Job bills before bullying bills, because Tennessee needs jobs more than they need more bullies,” Patton said.

Earlier that day, the Senate State and Local Government Committee delayed action on a proposal that seeks to repeal a Tennessee law passed last year that prohibits local governments from creating anti-discrimination regulations that are stricter than those of the state. The law nullified a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean sent a letter to the chairman of the committee in support of the legislation to repeal the law.

“A number of cities throughout our country have passed local ordinances similar to Nashville’s,” Dean wrote. “Such ordinances represent the decisions of locally elected government bodies, and I believe they deserve the respect of the state Legislature. Now is not the time to abandon our belief in local government.”

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.

Tennessee pol ousted from restaurant over AIDS comment

A Tennessee Republican lawmaker was ousted from a Knoxville restaurant over comments he made on a satellite radio show about the origins of AIDS and how it’s transmitted.

Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville was interviewed late last week by Michelangelo Signorile, editor-at-large of Huffington Gay Voices, on Signorile’s radio show on SiriusXM’s LGBT channel, OutQ, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel.

Campfield told the newspaper that some of his comments were taken “out of context” in the story.

He added: “I’m not a historian on AIDS … but I’ve read and seen what other people have read and seen and those facts are out there.”

The subject of the radio interview was a proposal by Campfield, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would ban public schools from teaching about gay issues.

During the discussion, Campfield said HIV and AIDS originated from a man having sex with a monkey and that “it is virtually … impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.”

In a Huffington Post story on the interview, Signorile describes Campfield as “comparing homosexuality to bestiality and making what public health officials would characterize as recklessly false assertions about AIDS.”

This afternoon HP reported that the owner of The Bistro at the Bijou in Knoxville asked Campfield to leave the restaurant over the weekend. “I hope that Stacy (sic) Campfield now knows what it feels like to be unfairly discriminated against,” restaurant owner Martha Boggs wrote on her Facebook page.

Later she said, “I didn’t want his hate in my restaurant.”

The Senate version of Campfield’s legislation passed last year. The companion has been delayed in a House subcommittee.

The measure limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Campfield said it’s needed in part because homosexuality is more dangerous than heterosexuality and “there are people who want to glorify risky behavior in schools.”

Opponents of the legislation fear it would prevent teachers and others from speaking out against the bullying of gay teens.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill delayed in committee

The sponsor of a measure that seeks to ban Tennessee public schools from teaching about LGBT issues says he is delaying a vote on the proposal.

The legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is sponsored by Republican state Rep. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald and was scheduled to be heard Jan. 18 in the Tennessee House Education Subcommittee.

But Hensley, according to AP, said two Republicans on the panel “weren’t very familiar with it” and wanted more time to review the proposal.

Hensley also is making plans to run for a Tennessee senate seat.

The companion bill passed the senate last year. It limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Hensley said he plans to amend the House version to say the same, and believes it will pass.

Opponents of the legislation fear it would prevent teachers and others from speaking out against the bullying of gay teens.

To read the bill go to http://capitol.tn.gov.

Source: AP

Governor signs bill voiding Nashville law

Supporters of a new Tennessee law prohibiting local governments from creating anti-discrimination laws stricter than the state’s say it will shield businesses from unwanted regulations. Opponents contend it’s blatantly discriminatory.

The measure, known as the Special Access to Discrimination Act and signed May 23 by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, voids a Nashville ordinance barring companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.

Meanwhile, the legislature adjourned May 24 without final action on another controversial measure, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

That measure would amend state code to prohibit public middle and elementary school educators from providing any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality. Discussions of human sexuality, the bill states, are more appropriate for the home.

The senate, voting 19-11, passed a weakened version of the schools measure May 20.

However, the general assembly retired after passing a budget May 24, leaving its version of the bill still on the table.

The bills “remain a threat to safe schools in Tennessee,” said Jonathan Cole, chair of the Tennessee Equality Project. Gay rights advocates said the legislation would interfere not only with what teachers say in the classroom but also impact how school officials deal with the bullying of a gay student.

The organization, based in Nashville, has launched the Gayathon campaign, encouraging people to say “gay” for equality, especially to say “gay” to Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campfield, the bill’s sponsor for the past six years.

Under Tennessee law it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.

The Nashville ordinance prohibited companies that discriminate because of sexual orientation or gender identity from receiving city contracts. It didn’t apply to local governments’ hiring policies for their own workers.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the governor expressed concern about the state telling local governments what to do, “but he also had concerns about local governments telling businesses what to do, especially the potential burden on small businesses.”

Jim Brown, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said his group considered the “controversial nature of the bill” but decided to support it because they believe it will protect private employers from “patchwork regulations.”

“Our view was there are states like California, Michigan and others that have really gone off on the deep end and they have all these patchwork regulations from different cities,” Brown said. “I think the principle of the bill is to protect private employers from … regulations that they don’t want to operate under.”

David Fowler, president of Family Action of Tennessee, a Christian conservative advocacy group, agreed.

“At a time when many families are struggling to find employment, the Legislature and the governor have done their part to help them by creating a better climate for job growth by preventing employers from being subjected to more and possibly inconsistent government regulation,” he said.

However, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese and a number of businesses – including FedEx, AT&T, Whirlpool and Comcast – oppose the measure because they view it as discriminatory.

He noted the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce at one time favored the measure, then changed its stance.

“Discrimination should have no place in the Volunteer State and the chamber’s opposition to this law sent a strong signal that corporations are on the leading edge of positive change,” Solmonese said. “In contrast, Gov. Haslam has put discrimination ahead of the state’s values and even business interests by signing this horrible legislation.”

The HRC head said Haslam was trying to “score cheap political points.”

An amendment by Democratic Rep. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville to exclude Davidson County failed.

“This general assembly had talked so much about getting government out of the lives of individuals,” she said. “And with this particular incident I think we just got right smack in the lives of individuals and their private lives.”

From staff and wire reports