After a two year hiatus, the US state of Tennessee is once again taking a look at a "Don’t Say Gay" bill, this one with new and improved discriminatory provisions, including requiring teachers and school counsellors to out LGBT students to their parents.
The potential for harm to LGBT students, and students with LGBT parents, is obvious. It’s easy to see how a the child of LGBT parents could even be forbidden from talking about their home life in any way that might require comment from a teacher, such as in a school report or show & tell. I won’t even get started on the compulsory outing provision, as many others in the LGBT media have already taken that on.
So who then does this bill benefit?
The Right would have us believe that this sort of legislation ensures that challenging social issues are addressed by parents rather than educators. It’s the same sort of flawed reasoning that has given us the catastrophic public health failure that is abstinence-only education.
In reality however, this bill only protects one class of people: school bullies. You see, if teachers saying anything "inconsistent with natural human reproduction" is prohibited, it becomes extremely challenging for educators to respond to the abuse of students who are, or are perceived to be LGBT. After all, if saying that there’s nothing wrong with being LGBT could cost a teacher their job, how can they come to the defence of a bullied LGBT kid?
I’ve known Christians who felt that it was their child’s protected religious freedom (and moral duty) to aggressively attempt to "argue" LGBT students out of their sexual orientation or gender identity, regardless of how this impacted the other student. It’s hard to imagine that these sorts of encounters aren’t in the mind of the bill’s creators. Read on…