‘Don’t Say Gay’ and the FAIR Education Act

By Francesca Duffy — April 21, 2011 1 min read
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As California ponders whether to add the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement in this country to the social studies curriculum in their schools, Tennessee just approved a bill that, as introduced, will prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in their K-8th grade classrooms.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield is one of the driving forces behind the Tennessee measure, nicknamed the “don’t say gay” bill. Back in September, a weekly newspaper in Knoxville, Tenn., published an interview with Campfield, in which he explained that teachers are already teaching too many other things in their classrooms that deviate from core subjects. According to Metro Pulse, Campfield said: “We’re always worried about doing this and that and 85 million different things. If I can take one thing away and say, hey, you don’t have to teach about homosexuality to your second-graders, you can spend more time on arithmetic.”

Meanwhile, in California, State Sen. Mark Leno, who introduced the bill known as the FAIR Education Act, argues that it’s discriminatory to exclude LGBT history from classrooms when other minority groups have a place in history lessons. According to the Associated Press, supporters of the bill assert that including this group in classroom instruction could “correct an obvious gap in the state’s existing social studies framework and curb anti-gay stereotypes that make gay youth vulnerable to bullying and suicide.”

It will be interesting to see how these two bills play out and which state’s lead others will follow.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.