No gays in Tennessee. Really?

So Tennessee have just passed their ridiculous and archaic ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill (, which bans the mention of anything other than heterosexuality in schools. Teachers are only allowed to talk about ‘natural human reproduction science’. The senate argue that homosexuality should be introduced by parents when they are ready to talk about it. Yeah right. My parents did pretty well to cover the basics of heterosexuality without any of us melting into a puddle of embarrassment on the floor, but homosexuality barely warranted a mention. They didn’t expect to have a gay child. Most parents don’t. And only the most liberal and comfortable will talk about LGBT issues with their children. Even they get a shock if one of their kids actually turns out to be one. I have a suspicion that Tennessee, as a state, hasn’t produced a generation of parents that will introduce the topic in a gentle and accepting manner.

Fifteen years ago, only 25% of Americans supported the right to marry for gays and lesbians. Just this month, latest statistics from CNN show that 53% are now ok with it (although that popular left wing response springs to mind; if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married). Tennessee, unsurprisingly, are the 6th least supportive state on a score of 31%. Even so, in amongst a backlash against some high profile LGBT youth suicides in the United States, the Tennessee senate still find it more important to preserve the delicate heterosexual sensibilities of their young, than to provide safety and education for those who are most at risk. This makes sense though, as Tennessee are the same state who, after a flurry of school shootings a couple of years ago, relaxed their laws to allow people to take their guns to the pub. You read that correctly, to the pub. Perhaps there is something we have yet to learn about the Tennessee government; maybe back in the day when the politicos were all fooling about at Politician School, doing lines (not written ones…) with George Dubya, the school board conspired to send the bottom 5th percentile to Tennessee. Apologies to any respectable politicians from this state, but I would suggest you get the hell out of there before they tar and feather you for using words like ‘progress’ and ‘social accountability’ in public.

Talking about the presence of LGBT people in society doesn’t stop us from existing. If this were the case, we would have been extinct centuries ago as it was the love that ‘dare not speak its name’. I’m not a big fan of cancer, but I reckon if we ban the word, it’s not going to slink off into the seedy underworld of disease with rejection in its eyes. Gay people have been around through all cultures and in all time; we ain’t goin’ nowhere. All that happens when you legislate against a natural characteristic, is a fallout that costs the state a lot of money; all this self harm,  inability-to-learn-at-school-due-to-bullying, homelessness, mental health issues – they cost money. Taxpayers’ money. So bottom 5th percentile, consider this, if you guide your communities towards being socially intelligent (probably an oxymoron for people who take their .38s down the boozer), empathetic and above all, respectful of human life, you might see a less aggressive society and save a couple of bucks while you’re at it.

And to Senator Stacey Campfield who pushed the bill through with such passion, congratulations Sir, your six year fight has paid off. The flip side, of course, is that pretty much the entire world is now wondering whether there is something slightly ‘latent’ about your passion. Never mind though, you’ve done your job. I’m pretty sure there will be no gays in Tennessee once the House passes it. Maybe we could ban the word ‘tax’ next?

If anyone wants to drop Senator Campfield a line to commend him on his foresight in clearing the state of tiresome gays, here is his email address:


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  1. #1 by jools on May 22, 2011 - 7:09 pm

    British schools have just changed the curriculum to positivley INCLUDE mentions of gay and lesbian couples and families in everyday schooling specifically because it is reconised to be as normal a part of everyday life as hetrosexual partners. it constantly amazes me that america seems to let religion dictate policy. surely every person in the world knows what happens when the extremists make all the decisions. i pity the children of tenessee

  2. #2 by Esther on May 22, 2011 - 10:29 pm

    Goodness! Did this get you wound up, or what? Great post. How do you manage to sound soooo pissed, but somehow so logical and calm. I just end up ranting and losing all focus…Well done and well said.

  3. #3 by ManagementPawn on May 23, 2011 - 10:03 am

    While I disagree vehemently with the imposition of this law – very similar to Article 2A / Clause 28 which as only repealed in Scotland as recently as 2000 and the rest of the UK in 2003 – ad hominem attacks on all of Tennessee’s politicians and the entire state’s educational standards and parenting skills seems a tad unnecessary.

    PS @Jools, there’s no such thing as British schools. Scottish schools changed the personal and social development parts of our curriculum back in 2001 on the back of repealing Section 2A. What took England 10 years?

    • #4 by ManagementPawn on May 23, 2011 - 10:08 am

      *was only repealed
      [face palm]

    • #5 by diversityrolemodels on May 23, 2011 - 3:01 pm

      I’ve seen the effects of Section 28 in this country, as I was teaching both before and after it was repealed so I am fully aware of the implications of it. Although the repeal and other legislative changes have allowed for open discussion on the topic, unfortunately, without guidance and teacher training, most are totally unaware of how they should be broaching this topic. And I apologise if I seemed to attack all parents and politicians. It is only an opinion piece and is intended to raise some valid points in a slightly humorous way. I think it is a fair deduction to make that Tennessee’s historical laws around this subject would make it difficult to for parents to be enlightened. Without education, it is difficult to bring about generational change. Of course I am generalising and I’m sure there are parents and politicians who are just as alarmed as we are about this legislation, however it interferes with writing flow to constantly write disclaimers!

  4. #6 by jools on May 23, 2011 - 9:21 pm

    well exuuuuuse me @managementPawn i was only trying to differentiate from `american’ schools and i would agree wholeheartedly that england has taken its own sweet time but at least it’s headed in the right direction now.

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