Tennessee will now require schools to notify parents and allow them to opt their student out before implementing sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum. The legislation went into effect on Monday, when Governor Bill Lee signed it into law. Essentially, this legislation serves as a notification and opt-out system concerning sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum.
Schools are now required to notify parents at least 30 days before imposing any curriculum dealing with sexual orientation or gender identity. The law also specifies that parents have the right to examine the curriculum materials and discuss them with their student’s instructor, school counselor, or principal.
There are several exceptions to this law. Schools aren’t required to notify parents when instructors or personnel respond to student questions pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity, if those questions relate to the instruction at hand. It also doesn’t require schools to notify parents when instructors or personnel are referring to the sexual orientation or gender identity of any historical person, group, or public figure, if that information provides necessary context to the instruction at hand.
Sponsors on the bill were State Senator Paul Rose (R-Tipton) and State Representative Debra Moody (R-Covington).
By and large, Democratic legislators voiced similar concerns throughout hearings on the bill that it would alienate and harm LGBTQ students.
During the final House floor hearing, State Representative Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) expressed those concerns. He claimed that the legislation prevented teachers from addressing bullying or attempted suicide if they pertained to LGBTQ students.
“We continue to stigmatize LGBTQ students and people in our state to the detriment of our students,” said Freeman.
Republican legislators took the equal opposite stance. They argued that parents should have the final say on what children learn. State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) offered a succinct version of the Republican consensus.
“Parents are in charge of their children: not government, not entities,” said Weaver. “I think this is a great piece of legislation that reminds who’s in charge.”
The House and Senate both passed the bill without any amendments.
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