The Tennessee legislature is considering a bill that would allow guardians to opt their schoolchildren out of learning about the LGBT community.
The bill, HB 529/SB 1229, passed through the House Education Instruction Committee today. But not without questions from Knoxville Republican Eddie Mannis on how this could impact students’ mental health.
Mannis is one of the two openly LGBT lawmakers in the legislature.
“It just concerns me what we’re saying to some kids. The stigma that we need a permission slip from your parents because LGBT, the stigma is that you’re a disgrace,” said Mannis.
The measure would require teachers to notify parents 30 days before they teach about sexual orientation or gender identity. Educators would also be required to prepare alternate lessons for students who are not given permission to engage with the curriculum.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Debra Moody of Covington, said this would give the power to parents to decide if the curriculum is fit for their children.
“I feel for parents. It’s their children. They’re responsible for them, they’ve chosen these schools,” said Moody. “They want to know that they know what’s being offered.”
But former educator Michael Rady testified against the bill. The Teach for America alumnus said the additional burden on teachers would likely discourage educators from teaching the content at all.
“This bill will hurt teachers, it will hurt families and it will hurt students,” said Rady.
The measure will now move to the House floor for a larger vote.