The General Assembly is considering whether schools should notify parents about sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum. HB0529/SB1229 would require this. It would also allow parents to opt their children out of that curriculum, review the materials, and confer with school officials about the curriculum or materials.
Schools would have to notify parents about the curriculum 30 days in advance, at minimum. It wouldn’t require any notification about responses to in-class questions from students, or about references to the sexual orientation or gender identity of historic figures. It also wouldn’t require schools to adopt this type of curriculum.
State Representative Debra Moody (R-Covington) and State Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington) are the sponsors on this legislation.
Testimonials before the Senate Education Committee varied. Opposition came from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), who claimed that this bill would marginalize and alienate LGBTQ+ students. The First Amendment Partnership argued this bill was neutral and consistent with current educational standards, and that it was only forceful in allowing parents to opt what education their children receive.
Like GLSEN, State Representative Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) said the bill would act as a dangerous marginalization tool.
“It is dangerous to single out children that are already marginalized,” stated Akbari. “[W]hen something’s sent home that says certain kids don’t have to learn about how certain people are, how they’re born, or how they identify, then that’s dangerous and it’s harmful and it could have lasting implications.”
Akbari added that the schools have a responsibility to teach children about moral integrity.
During the House Education Instruction Subcommittee hearing, State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) commended Moody for the legislation.
“[I] think most Tennessee parents would like for sex education – outside of abstinence, teen pregnancy prevention, STD preventions – families would like to address that with their children, not the state government instructing our children about that subject matter. And so, I applaud you for bringing this legislation, I support it,” stated Griffey.
The House Education Instruction Committee will review the bill on Wednesday. The Senate will vote on the bill once the Calendar Committee schedules it.
– – –