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Government & Politics

Tennessee Lawmakers Debate Yet Another Measure To Limit Teaching about The LGBTQ Community

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John Lio, via Flickr
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  A Tennessee bill aimes to prohibit textbooks that acknowledge the LGBT community, though the measure is unlikely to pass this spring. 

The measure would eliminate any instructional materials that would “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles.” It’s one of several anti-LGBT bills moving through the legislature right now. 

Memphis Democrat Torrey Harris, an openly bisexual lawmaker, argued Wednesday this would erase important pieces of history. 

“This would eliminate me and one other member of this committee from even being mentioned in our textbooks,” said Harris.

That other member is Knoxville Republican Eddie Mannis, an openly gay lawmaker. He joined two other Republicans in opposing the measure. 

Among them was Republican Iris Rudder, who said other pieces of state legislation would already deem these teachings unfit. Rudder said she believed social issues of all kinds should stay out of the classroom.

“We cancel a lot of things in our society and in books. We canceled Dr. Seuss,” said Rudder, referring to the Seuss estate’s decision to stop printing some of the author’s books with racist imagery. “So there’s a double standard there.”

Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, sponsored the bill to ensure no one’s “belief system” was taught in public schools.

“I have two daughters. I’d prefer to teach my daughters about sex — transgender, bisexuals, any of that stuff — at home and not have our government do it,” said Griffey.

The legislation passed narrowly in a House committee today with an 8-7 vote. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill this year, but it could be taken up when lawmakers reconvene next spring. 

Kendall Crawford is WPLN’s spring 2021 political intern, covering the state Capitol and producing the Tri-Star State podcast. 

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