Story at a glance
- Tennessee lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban lessons on “LGBTQ lifestyle issues” in state public and charter schools.
- The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Bruce Griffey (R), has said LGBTQ+ issues should be given the same treatment as religious teachings in public schools, which are forbidden under the Constitution.
- A similar bill is making its way through Florida. As Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signaled support for that bill, President Biden condemned it, calling it a “hateful” attack on children.
Lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced a bill aiming to bar public and charter school teachers in the state from teaching young students about “LGBTQ lifestyle issues.”
“What it seeks to do is say we’re not going to get into the LGBTQ lifestyle issues in public schools,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Bruce Griffey (R), told Fox News on Wednesday.
According to text of the bill, educational materials like textbooks that “promote, normalize, support, or address controversial social issues, such as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) lifestyles are inappropriate” and should not be adopted by public schools or charter schools in Tennessee.
“The promotion of LGBT issues and lifestyles should be subject to the same restrictions and limitations placed on the teaching of religion in public schools,” reads a portion of the bill, referring to a portion of the Constitution which forbids school-sponsored prayer.
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Public schools may offer lessons about religion in a secular context, and the Bible may be taught in schools, but only for its historical, cultural or literary value.
“The State of Tennessee is not allowed to teach my daughters Christian values that I think are important and they should learn, so I teach those at home,” Griffey told FOX-affiliate WXIX-TV. “So, if those are not part of the school curriculum, I don’t see how LGBTQ and other issues and social lifestyles should be part of the curriculum.”
Griffey added that he has heard “a lot” of complaints from parents about LGBTQ+ issues “being brought up, discussed and promoted in schools.”
A similar bill moving through the Florida House, which critics have called “Don’t Say Gay,” would ban educators from facilitating conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels in a manner that is not “age-appropriate.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signaled support for the bill during an event with media, but he did not indicate whether he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.
President Biden on Tuesday called the Florida bill a “hateful” attack on children.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden tweeted Tuesday. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
Also on Tuesday, a nearly identical bill passed in a Florida state Senate committee. It will need to be considered by two more Florida Senate committees, which may make changes, before it can be presented to the full chamber and then to the Florida House.
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