Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Tennessee: “Don’t say gay” dies; “gateway sexual activity” passes

| »
“Don’t say gay”

Every dark cloud has a silver lining: The Tennessee legislature may well be doing its best to turn their state into a bigger laughingstock than Florida, but there appears to be some hope yet, as the infamous “don’t say gay” bill has been pulled by its sponsor and is now expected to die without passage:

The so-called "Don't Say Gay bill," which perhaps brought more national attention for the Tennessee Legislature than any other piece of legislation, will not be put to a final vote needed for passage, the measure's House sponsor said Sunday.

The decision by Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, means that SB49 will die with the adjournment of the 107th General Assembly. Legislative leaders hope that will be today.

Hensley said the officials of the Department of Education and the state Board of Education have pledged to send a letter to all Tennessee schools "telling them they cannot teach this subject in grades kindergarten through eight."

"With that assurance and the opposition of some people who didn't want to vote on it, I've decided simply not to bring it up," said Hensley.

It’s sad (albeit unsurprising) to hear that a number of state education officials are apparently idiots, but nonetheless, this is good news for any state that wishes to avoid being seen as coming right out of the 1800s.

No holding hands

Then again, one should never speak too quickly, as an even more ridiculous bill has actually passed the legislature and is now waiting to be signed into law:

The Tennessee Legislature on Friday sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk that, according to the Tennessean, would require sex-ed classes to “exclusively and emphatically” promote abstinence and ban teachers and outside groups from promoting “gateway sexual activity.”

The bill defines “gateway sexual activity” as: “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim Gotto, said the bill wouldn’t address things as innocuous as holding hands, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. But critics of the legislation say the offending behavior is not clearly defined.

So kids can talk and learn about gays in schools, but god help them if they want to learn anything remotely useful about any other form of sexuality (or – ye gods! – if they get caught acting affectionate behind the gymnasium). I guess that’s what passes for a compromise these days.

(via Joe. My. God. & Joe. My. God.)