(WMC-TV) - A proposal dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill passed the House Education Subcommittee Wednesday.
The legislation limits all sexually related instruction to "natural human reproduction science" in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"This bill, if amended, does not prohibit the use of the word gay, it does not change the anti-bullying statute, and it does not prohibit a school guidance counselor from discussing issues of sexuality with a student," said Rep. Bill Dunn (R) of Knoxville.
Anne Gullick with the Tennessee Equality Project said if the law is passed, it will have a chilling effect on the teacher-student relationship.
"If we take that adult resource that our kids have from school and muzzle that resource, what purpose would that serve for the protection of kids?" asked Gullick.
Last year, protesters crowded outside the capitol in Nashville when the senate considered and passed the same proposal. Protesters returned Wednesday, this time wearing purple tape across their mouths, symbolizing what they consider silencing teachers.
Opponents fear the law would prevent teachers from speaking out against the bullying of gay teens.
"If the classroom teacher is muzzled, is quieted, what message are you sending?" said Gullick. "That you're not worth my time, our involvement in your life is not worthy."
The bill will come up for discussion again next week. It has been placed on the state education committee calendar February 21. It is on track for the full house before the current session adjourns.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 5:14 PM EDT2013-06-19 21:14:11 GMT
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