Gov on Gay Bills: ‘Better Things to Focus On’

Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters Wednesday that he doesn’t think bills dealing with sexual orientation are the best use of lawmakers’ time this session, according to TNReport.
Haslam was asked specifically about whether he sees a connection between bills such as one to ban teaching about homosexuality in lower grades and two teen suicides in as many months by Middle Tennessee students who were reportedly bullied for being gay.
“Obviously, that’s not the environment we want to set in Tennessee,” he said. “In terms of legislation, I think there’s better things for us to focus on this year.”
…The topic of much conversation Wednesday was the bill known to critics as the “Right-to-Bully.”
The original version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, was filed last year but never came to a vote in either chamber. Talking to reporters Wednesday, Family Action Council of Tennessee president David Fowler said the bill’s language had been reworked and that a new version would be filed Thursday. Fowler is a former GOP state senator from Signal Mountain.
Fowler acknowledged the bill’s original language was “apparently not sufficient to communicate what we were trying to do.” The initial bill had drawn national criticism for language that critics said would protect bullying, as long as it was done on religious or political grounds.
But Fowler said the bill’s aim is actually to reduce bullying in public schools — but without infringing on the rights of students’ to engage in free speech and religious expression.
“We have to appreciate that the same First Amendment that is disregarded today to suppress speech you don’t like, is the principle that tomorrow may be used to suppress your speech,” he said. “So, we have to appreciate the First Amendment cuts both ways.”
As for the new version of the bill, Fowler said it would try to define situations that called for action by school administrators.
“Specifically, if a student reports harm to themselves or their property, or the threat of harm to themselves or their property, that in itself should be enough to demand that the administrator investigate that situation, take action, and in our bill what is done would need to be reported to others who can monitor the situation,” he said

One thought on “Gov on Gay Bills: ‘Better Things to Focus On’

  1. Donna Locke

    No, Fowler. The denigration and attack speech in every form has to stop. We are talking about children and teenagers. Are not minors a protected class in this country? They haven’t been very protected in school and on school buses. Not from bullying.

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