Tennessee State Legislature Sends Anti-LGBTQ Education Bill to Governor’s Desk for Signature

by Wyatt Ronan

TENNESSEE — Today, the Tennessee state legislature sent SB 1229, a sweeping anti-LGBTQ education bill, to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for signature.

This bill would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality. In addition to making it harder for kids to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes, for example. A district could be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence. This bill also disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and put children at greater risk of health consequences.

SB 1229 is part of the 2021 “Slate of Hate” bills rippling through the Tennessee state legislature, along with the anti-transgender sports and business bathroom bills. These anti-equality pieces of legislation are being pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division.

In addition to these two anti-transgender bills, the Tennessee legislature is considering SB 1367 (HB 1233), another ‘bathroom bill,’ HB 578 (SB 657), an anti-trans medical care ban, HB 800 (SB 1216), a bill that would prevent schools from providing an LGBTQ-inclusive education, and HB 372 (SB 193), a bill to permit all government employees, including teachers, first responders, and public officials to opt-out of diversity training.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction to the Tennessee state legislature sending SB 1229 to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk:

The Tennessee state legislature is continuing on a discriminatory rampage to craft hateful bills that harm LGBTQ children, and signing this bill into law would hurt all Tennesseeans, including and especially LGBTQ youth. We strongly urge Governor Bill Lee to veto this bill. This bill purports to be about sex education but its ramifications could actually impact everything from history class to reading literature. Rather than indoctrinating hate in law with discriminatory bills that try to erase LGBTQ people, the Tennessee state legislature and Governor Lee should be focused on the real issues impacting Tennessee, such as COVID-19 relief.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

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