Knoxville Area UU’s Organize Rally to Oppose Dangerous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
The current legislative session in Tennessee could be a very damaging one for LGBT individuals, families and allies. A proposed bill by State Sen. Stacy Campfield (R-Knoxville) would prohibit elementary and middle schools teachers from discussing homosexuality. The legislation has already been recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee. It could go for a vote of the full Senate this week.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as is is dubbed, has made national news. Time Magazine reported:
“…in only restricting speech about homosexuality, not heterosexuality, the measure seems to have a more one-sided agenda than the sponsor purports. That point has led gay-rights activists to call the bill a form of discrimination, especially as it bars teachers from talking about gay issues or sexuality even with students who identify as gay or have gay parents.
People of faith, educators and students in the Knoxville area are not allowing Sen. Campfield’s dangerous proposal to go unanswered. Rev. Chris Buice of Tennessee Valley UU Church and Rev. Jake Bohstedt Morrill of Oak Ridge UU Church — both in greater Knoxville — reached out to the TN Equality Project, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, as well as youth groups and educators, to organize a rally on Thursday in opposition to the legislation. The rally in Knoxville is particularly important, since Sen. Campfield, the lead sponsor, is homegrown.
As you can see from the photos, the Standing on the Side of Love banner is shining brightly in the sunshine!
Waving posters and cheering on speakers, some 80 people rallied Thursday afternoon to express opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill now before the state Senate.
If the legislation passes, “students that are gay will be ostracized more than ever,” warned student Alesha Hicks, president of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Oak Ridge High School.
School guidance counselor Matt Koehler recalled an incident several years ago when a middle school boy came into his office in tears because he’d been called “gay, fag and homo.”
Any effort by him to defuse those verbal attacks would have been illegal under the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Koehler said.
Local publication Oakridger.com also got to the heart of the issue:
Those who spoke at the rally, organized by the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church and the GSA at ORHS and Karns High School, said gay students have to endure ignorance, intolerance, and regular name-calling — and they sometimes live in fear of brutality.
“I am sick and tired of the violence of body and spirit directed against people just because of who they love,” said Rev. Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
To take action against this dangerous anti-LGBT bill, you can sign this Change.org petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-dont-say-gay-bill-in-the-tennessee-state-senate and ask your friends and family to do the same — especially friends and family in Tennessee!