Tennessee Republicans want to allow students to opt out of learning about LGBTQ issues.
Legislation introduced by Republican state Sen. Paul Rose, moved through a Senate panel on March 25. S.B. 1229 would require schools to notify parents 30 days in advance of any lessons involving gender identity or sexuality.
The bill defines LGBTQ education as including spreading materials, overseeing tests, or conducting surveys. Any parents opposed to such instruction would have the option of excusing their children without penalty.
Republicans framed the legislation as an attempt to provide more control to parents over their child’s education.
“Some parents want to protect their minor children from the real world as much as they can,” Republican state Sen. Joey Hensley said.
The bill will now proceed to the Senate floor for a full vote. It is likely to pass in the Republican-controlled chamber.
“My heart goes out to the children and families who don’t feel welcome in their own state,” Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, who opposes the legislation, said.
The move to allow students to opt out of LGBTQ education comes amid a flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation on Tennessee. On March 30, a House subcommittee will consider a Republican-sponsored bill that would ban LGBTQ-inclusive books from being taught in public schools, branding them “controversial” and “inappropriate.”
Earlier this week, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Lee, signed into law a ban on transgender children competing in sports competitions according to their gender identity.
All of the bills stem from the so-called “Slate of Hate” — 11 Republican-sponsored pieces of legislation targeting the LGBTQ community for discrimination in multiple areas, including restricting transgender health care and banning transgender people from facilities matching their gender identity.
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