The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation last year that prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. But conservative parents would be wrong to think that they can now relax their vigilance over what their children are learning in school.
Not only do educators confirm that CRT principles are still being disseminated in some school districts through the use of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum like Wit & Wisdom but GLSEN clubs are providing a back door for CRT to infiltrate public schools in Tennessee.
GLSEN (pronounced glisten) stands for Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network an organization that supports GSA clubs in schools (Gender and Sexuality Alliances or Gay-Straight Alliances.) The student-led extracurricular clubs in K-12 public schools “provide LGBTQ students with a support network and help all students advocate for safer and more inclusive schools for all.” They sponsor and provide free resources for students to celebrate events such as Solidarity Week, No-Name Calling Week, and Day of Silence.
On the national GLSEN website, students are invited to make their clubs inclusive for black LGBTQ+ students by ensuring that “Black experiences and the needs of Black communities” help shape the work of the club. Some suggestions on how to achieve this include not sharing videos of “police brutality” without giving students a chance to opt out, having diverse programming that “centers” Black people, and ensuring that everyone involved with the club is committed to anti-racism. Students are also told that recognizing their own “privilege” is important if they want to support those who are in the LGBTQ+ community.
GLSEN maintains that “mainstream queer culture… has largely been shaped by white supremacy” and encourages club members to be mindful about events and holidays that affect Black students.
GLSEN offers the following advice, “If your GSA does educational programming, make sure that Black experiences are included in that. If you’re doing an activity about queer history, make sure to highlight Black queer history as well. If you’re discussing gender identity, talk about the gender binary as a white supremacist concept, and share information about some of the many African and Indigenous tribes that have embraced gender outside of the binary for decades.”
GLSEN has a 2022-2023 School Year Calendar which states that the school year is “full of opportunities” to participate in GLSEN events, address LGBTQ+ and social justice issues… and take action to create safe and inclusive schools.”
- Bisexual Awareness Week (September 16 – 23)
- LGBTQ History Month in (October)
- National Coming Out Day (October 11)
- International Pronouns Day (October 21)
- Trans Awareness Month (November)
- Pansexual & Panromantic Pride Day (December 8)
- International Drag Day (July 16)
Tennessee Code states that every public school must notify parents of all clubs available to students annually, and that parents may prevent their children from joining clubs by providing written communication to the school administration.
Earlier this month, we asked Tennessee parents if they were informed of which clubs were active in their child’s school during registration and given the opportunity to consent. The majority did not receive this information.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.