Tennessee "Don't Say Gay" bill dies, again

Lawmakers resurrected the failed anti-gay legislation, only to make it more extreme. It wasn't the best strategy

Published March 27, 2013 3:33PM (EDT)

Rep. John Ragan, R-Tenn.  (Rep. John Ragan)
Rep. John Ragan, R-Tenn. (Rep. John Ragan)

Tennessee lawmakers failed to pass a measure banning elementary and middle-school teachers from discussing sexual activity that is not "related to natural human reproduction” during a 2012 legislative session, only to resurrect the bill in 2013 with an even more extreme mandate.

The return of the state's "Don't Say Gay" bill included new language requiring school officials to inform parents if they suspect one of their students is gay. The measure also mandated schools to provide counseling to such students, to prevent "behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person."

The measure died in a House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. (Rest in peace, awful garbage hate bill!)

As reported by the Associated Press:

The House sponsor, Republican Rep. John Ragan of Oak Ridge, had planned to amend the legislation to require principals or counselors to identify students who might be a potential threat, but he never got a chance to do so.

The amended version would have been quite different than the Senate proposal, which sought to give schools the authority to inform parents about children who talk to school officials about their sexuality.

"I'm disappointed," Ragan said. "I thought it was a good bill. It was about school safety."

But this story isn't over just yet: Ragan, perhaps assuming that third time's a charm when it comes to passing anti-gay legislation, intends to reintroduce the measure next year.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Anti-gay Bullying Don't Say Gay Bill Gay Rights Lgbt Lgbt Rights Rep. John Ragan