Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Photo Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook
Published April 15, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Governor Lee will soon be considering a Tennessee bill that would require schools to inform parents of any curriculum that includes instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation and would allow parents to opt their student out of that instruction.
The bill passed through the House Wednesday morning with a wide margin of 64-23. It was passed in the Senate last week.
It would require that school districts inform parents if they plan to provide any instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation. This notification must come at least 30 days prior to the instruction. Parents would then have the right to have their children excused from participation in that curriculum, and students could not be penalized in any way for that allowance.
Democratic Representative John Ray Clemmons asked Moody what she feared that children were being taught.
“I am not afraid,” Moody replied. “I am simply standing here for the parents, and the parents need to have the decision over what they think is appropriate for their child.”
Those who support the bill argue that the bill gives the power of choice to parents, allowing them to decide what is and is not acceptable for their children.
“Government does not own our children,” said Representative Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster. “Parents are responsible, and parents have every right to opt their child out of anything that is taught in the school that the parent does not believe their child should be involved with.”
Republican Representative Ryan Williams of Cookeville also agreed that the bill would allow him to shield his children from curriculum that he does not want them exposed to.
“As a parent, I find out when my child comes home what video they saw that day, not 30 days before so I can protect my own child from that,” Williams said. “Our kids are young and impressionable, and what we allow in their minds is important.”
Opponents believe that the bill will cause an even greater dividing line between gender minority groups and leave many students without an opportunity to understand the existence of LGBTQ communities.
“We continue to stigmatize LGBTQ students and people in our state to the detriment of these students,” said Representative Bob Freeman, a Democrat from Nashville.
Democrat Representative Antonio Parkinson expressed fear that allowing this measure was creating a slippery slope.
“It’s LGBTQ today. And then it’s Black Lives Matter tomorrow. And then it’s Black history tomorrow,” Parkinson said. “And then, depending on what school it is, it could be the insurrection the next day. It could be Trump the next day.”
Many educators across the state are also speaking out against the bill, calling for people to stand up and keep legislators out of classroom decisions.
Nashville teacher Lindsey Lieck spoke at a Metro Nashville Public Schools board meeting on Tuesday Night.
“We don’t want them denying our students access to inclusive materials. LGBTQ students deserve to see themselves mirrored in the curriculum,” Lieck said.
Another educator, Mae Christiansen, added, “We should not be prioritizing one student’s comfort over another student’s very existence.”
While the bill would require advance notice of any formal instruction of LGBTQ content, it would not place a ban on students asking questions related to the topic. It also would not require schools to notify parents if teachers planned to mention the sexual orientation or gender identity of a historical figure, if that information provided “necessary context.”
The bill’s wording does not define “necessary context” and makes it somewhat unclear as to how teaches should respond to questions from students.
This step marks yet another victory against the imposing of LGBTQ ideals in schools. Earlier this session, Tennessee legislators passed a bill banning the participation of transgender athletes in school sports.