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A recent bill introduced in Tennessee would ban public schools from teaching any textbooks that contain mention of the LGBTQ community.
Republican state Rep. Bruce Giffey introduced House Bill 800 last month and it will be heard by the Education Instruction Subcommittee today, March 30.
The bill states that “LEAs [local education agencies] and public charter schools shall not locally adopt or use in the public schools of this state, textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyle.”
Giffey’s bill brands LGBTQ people a “controversial” social issue and says books dealing with LGBTQ issues are “inappropriate.”
It also stresses that any teaching related to topics or gender identity or sexual orientation may offend the Christian community.
He instead suggests schools focus on academic courses that can lead students down a pathway to “success,” such as reading, science, and mathematics.
However, it does not recognize how Tennessee students that identify as part of the LGBTQ community would be affected by their further marginalization in a learning environment.
If passed, Giffey’s bill would take effect on July 1, and have an impact on the 2021-2022 academic calendar.
Chris Sanders, Executive Director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told Metro Weekly in an email that Giffey’s legislation would likely violate federal statutes, federal executive orders, and the First Amendment.
“Local school boards and the Legislature should know that HB800, HB529, and any bill that would restrict certain topics from the curriculum, particularly when they are based on animus towards a community, are constitutionally suspect,” Sanders said. “Restricting information about our community further stigmatizes LGBTQ students who experience high rates of bullying.”
He added that the Tennessee Equality Project is “helping Tennessee residents meet with their own legislators and we are helping generate greater phone and email contact with legislators who serve on key committees that are voting on the bill.”
The bill is the latest in the Tennessee Republican Party’s ongoing crusade against the LGBTQ community, which includes measures aimed at banning trans youth athletes from participating in school sports and permitting adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ parents.
Both of these measures have already passed into law, and another aimed at making the Bible the state’s official text, is currently being considered.
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