Story at a glance

  • Tennessee parents will be allowed to exclude their children from sex education courses in state schools.
  • The bill specifically mentions the courses that contain “gender identity” curriculums.
  • LGBTQ+ rights organizations say the bill prevents access to proper sex education for children.

On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a controversial bill into law that has provoked concern among the U.S. LGBTQ+ advocacy community.

The bill, SB 1229, requires the parent or legal guardian of any individual attending a local Tennessee school to be notified before the child is enrolled in a sexual education curriculum. This gives the parent the option to exclude the child from the lesson. 

The bill specifically calls out the sex education of “sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum.”

LGBTQ+ right groups have stated that the bill makes it more challenging for students to have access to proper sex education, which stands to affect their physical and mental well-being adversely.

It could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes,” the Human Rights Campaign wrote.


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The Tennessee Equality Project tweeted that the opt-out bill was “Discriminatory, demeaning, and another burden for school districts.”

“SB 1229 is a discriminatory piece of legislation that would put the health and safety of LGBTQ students at risk,” said Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “All students deserve access to a quality academic experience, including the opportunity to learn about themselves and critically important health information as they develop.”

The Tennessee state legislature has considered and passed other bills and laws considered to be discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community, including a recent bathroom sign mandate and a law prohibiting trans women from participating in girls’ athletics. 

Advocacy groups have come to label the slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation seen in Tennessee and elsewhere as the “Slate of Hate.” 

SB 1229 was introduced by State Sen. Paul Rose (R), who has sponsored other restrictive LGBTQ+ bills. 


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Published on May 05, 2021