Tag Archives: gay

StudentsFirst Rescinds Ragan’s ‘Reformer of the Year’ Recognition

Responding to an online petition drive launched by an 11-year-old Oak Ridge boy, StudentsFirst has rescinded its designation of state Rep. John Ragan as a ‘reformer of the year” because he sponsored the so-called “the don’t say gay bill.”
“Regardless of when Representative Ragan was named a “Reformer of the Year” by our organization, his introduction of ill-conceived and harmful legislation including HB 1332 — which would have cultivated a culture of bullying — does not represent the type of leadership we look for in our legislative champions. We have made that clear to Rep. Ragan and rescinded the recognition,” wrote Michelle Rhee, founder and president of StudentsFirst in a post on the education reform organization’s website.
“Simply put, we must hold our “Reformers of the Year” to a higher standard. So let me be very clear — policies that are intended to single out any student based on their sexual orientation and treat them differently are wrong,” Rhee said.
The rescission of Ragan’s recognition by the group Wednesday came five days after Marcel Neergaard, 11, and his parents started a petition at MoveOn.org urging StudentsFirst to do so. On Thursday afternoon, it had collected 55,034 supporters.

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Rep. Ragan: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bashing Unfair, Uninformed

State Rep. John Ragan says the fresh round of criticism he has faced for sponsorship of so-called “don’t say gay” bill is uninformed and unfair because he was trying to completely transform the bill so that it had “absolutely nothing to do” with homosexuality.
“It really irritates me in a major fashion,” said Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, in an interview.
An article posted on both The Daily Kos and The Huffington Post chides StudentsFirst, a national education reform organization, for declaring Ragan a Tennessee “educational reformer of the year” while he was sponsor of the “don’t say gay” bill (HB1332).
“The latest version would have forced select Tennessee school officials to notify parents of children who privately discussed their sexual orientation, essentially dictating forced ‘outing’ of kids, even against their own objections,” the article says. “Ragan’s proposed education bill is more than just ignorant and wrong, and bad policy, it’s downright dangerous and does anything but ‘put students first.’ ”

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Rep. Ragan Deemed ‘Reformer of the Year’ by Oversight?

State Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, has been designated a “reformer of the year” by StudentsFirst, which also gave $6,500 to his reelection campaign. This has inspired a critical article in the Daily Kos after bloggers discovered that he also sponsored the so-called “don’t say gay” bill along with Sen. Stacey Campfield. (And couldn’t get a second for passage in a House subcommittee, HERE.)
Excerpt:
Eric Lerum, StudentsFirst’s VP of national policy offered some responses to angry backlash on Twitter Friday night, claiming they were unaware of John Ragan’s anti-gay history and “We wouldn’t have endorsed had we known.” He alluded Ragan’s selection was a candidate vetting snafu.
As vetting goes, one need simply type “John Ragan'” into the Tennessee legislature’s website to see Ragan filed HB 1332, the “Classroom Protection Act” back on February 14, 2013. It even pops up with a great big bold lead-in that says: “Education” so this educational political action group could easily find bills of interest to them. The legislative history for HB 1332 shows seven actions were taken on the bill until late March 2013 including lots of activity in the House Education Subcommittee.

Which, of course, perhaps indicates that discerning readers of this blog are more informed about Tennessee legislators and their doings than either StudentsFirst or The Daily Kos. (Sample Ragan posts HERE, HERE and HERE.)

‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Dies For Lack of a Second

A bill entitled “Classroom Protection Act,” better known as the “don’t say gay bill,” died quietly and without debate in the House Education Subcommittee Tuesday.
No representative on the nine-member panel would make the necessary motion to second the bill before it could be considered. The chairman, Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, declared the bill dead for lack of a second and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, simply said, “Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.”
Ragan had prepared an amendment rewriting the bill (HB1332), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, but never got to explain it to the panel.

From the Tennessean:
The measure’s sponsor, state Rep. John Ragan, expressed disappointment, saying he planned to present an amendment that turned the bill into a plan to deal with schoolhouse shootings — not homosexuality.
The developments appeared to put an end to this year’s fight between gay rights groups and conservative lawmakers over how to discuss same-sex relationships with schoolchildren. It fell on a day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge to California’s ban on gay marriage, with few activists on hand for the bill’s demise.
In its original form, the bill would have prohibited lessons or planned discussions about homosexuality before high school. Guidance counselors also would have been required to notify parents if students told them of any potentially risky behavior.
Gay rights groups saw the bill as an extension of “Don’t Say Gay” measures they have fought in previous legislative sessions. They said the bill would chill discussions between students and teachers or administrators by creating a reporting requirement.

MTSU Poll: Tennesseans Oppose Same-Sex Marriage and ‘Don’t Say Gay’

News release from Middle Tennessee State University:
Tennessee than nearly anywhere else in the country, but the state’s proposed “don’t say gay” law has little support, the latest MTSU Poll indicates.
“Though Tennesseans may be fairly characterized as extremely opposed to same-sex marriage at this point, whether and how homosexuality should be addressed in public schools is a very different matter,” said Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.
A solid 62 percent majority of Tennesseans oppose “allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally,” while 28 percent are in favor, 6 percent don’t know, and the rest decline to answer, according to the poll.
This nearly two-thirds opposition in Tennessee to legalizing gay marriage is significantly higher than the 43 percent opposition registered nationally in surveys throughout 2012 by the Pew Center for the People and the Press1. It is higher even than the 56 percent opposition Pew found to be typical in 2012 of the South Central region that includes Tennessee as well as Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

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Colbert Report: ‘Future President Campfield’

The national spotlight on Knoxville legislator Stacey Campfield burned brighter (and, perhaps, lighter) Thursday with a segment on the lawmaker’s latest homosexuality in the classroom bill by comedian and political satirist Stephen Colbert.
Colbert suggested Thursday on Comedy Central’s “The Cobert Report” cable television show that Tennessee State Sen. Campfield could be the perfect presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2016.
In a segment called “Mr. Smith Goes to the State Legislature – Stacey Campfield,” Colbert praised Campfield for his “heroic work protecting our students’ morals.”
“Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield goes after sexuality in schools and the freeloadiest of all American freeloaders,” the caption for the video says on the Colbert Report website.

(Note: This post from the News Sentinel website.)

Ramsey: ‘Some Things Don’t Need to Be Public’

Asked about a GOP state senator’s bill to require public school employees to inform a student’s parents if alerted the child is possibly engaging in homosexual activity, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey sided with those who say it’s a government intrusion into family matters.
This from TNReport:
“There are some things that should be left inside the family and some things don’t need to be in public,” Ramsey said.
He added that the issue is nowhere near a priority to him. “It’s not even on my radar screen right now,” said Ramsey.
Under legislation sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, a school counselor, nurse or principal would have to inform parents if their children’s “circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality.”
Campfield told reporters this week that he considers the “act of homosexuality” to be dangerous to a child’s health and safety.

AP Story on ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ 2013 Edition

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill that proposes forcing schools to tell parents if their children have talked to a teacher or counselor about being gay has set the stage for a new fight over social issues in the Tennessee Legislature.
Opponents call the legislation unnecessary and an inappropriate government intrusion in family matters.
The measure, filed Tuesday by state Sen. Stacey Campfield, is already drawing attention. The Knoxville Republican was mocked by talk show host Jay Leno last week, and he made headlines in 2011 when his legislation — often called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — to ban classroom instruction or discussion of homosexuality passed the Senate. The companion bill failed in the House last year.
Campfield’s new legislation is a retooling of that bill. Like the previous measure, it would prohibit classroom discussion of anything other than natural reproduction, and it goes further by giving schools the authority to inform parents about children who talk to school officials about their sexuality.

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Haslam Pans Gay Counseling Notification Bill

Legislation that would require school counselors to tell parents about their child’s homosexuality “isn’t getting much traction with Gov. Bill Haslam,” reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Haslam told Chattanooga Times Free Press editors and reporters Thursday that the legislation from Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, is a variation of the conservative firebrand’s previous so-called “don’t say gay” legislation.
“I know it’s kind of a revised form of a bill that came up last year,” Haslam said. “At the time I didn’t feel the bill last year was needed, and I don’t really think this one is needed either.”
Campfield defended his bill this week, telling the Knoxville News Sentinel “it’s ridiculous to say we should shield parents from that information” about homosexual activity, noting it can be dangerous because of AIDs and sexually-transmitted disease.
“I think it’s important that, if they’re doing something that’s potentially dangerous or life-threatening, that you should get parents involved,” he said.
Haslam said when he’s out speaking to people or groups like the Chattanooga Rotary Club, which he addressed earlier Thursday, “those aren’t the questions people ask me about, they’re not. People do ask me about what are you doing to bring more jobs here, what are you doing so our kids aren’t 40th in education.”
Jonathan Cole with the Tennessee Equality Project, a gay rights group, said Campfield’s bill “would force educators to ‘out’ students to their parents and risk family rejection before a student is ready to deal with issues of coming out.”
The gay rights group has fought previous versions of Campfield’s “don’t say gay” bill, which effectively seeks to ban classroom discussion of gay sex through eighth grade. The current legislation does that as well. While it doesn’t mention homosexuality, it refers to behavior “inconsistent with natural human reproduction.”
It then delves into counseling, saying the measure wouldn’t prevent a counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal “from responding appropriately to a student whose circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality.

Campfield Bill: Don’t Teach Gay, Do Tell Parents

Sen. Stacey Campfield’s new version of legislation known as “don’t say gay” in past years allows counseling of students on homosexuality, but calls for notification of a youth’s parents when counseling occurs.
Campfield, R-Knoxville, has entitled the new bill, SB234, “Classroom Protection Act.” It generally prohibits in grades kindergarten through eight “classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction.”
Critics of similar past legislation have complained that teachers could be prohibited from answering questions or counseling troubled students if the topic involves homosexuality. The new bill explicitly excludes a teacher “answering in good faith” any questions related to the subject being taught and says school nurses, counselors, principals and assistant principals can counsel students.
But it also says, “Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred.” The provision has been widely criticized on several blogs as potentially creating situation that could discourage troubled students from seeking counseling when dealing with sexual abuse, bullying or even contemplation of suicide.
Campfield said, however, “it’s ridiculous to say we should shield parents from that information” about homosexual activity, which can be dangerous because of AIDs and sexually-transmitted disease.
“I think it’s important that, if they’re doing something that’s potentially dangerous or life-threatening, that you should get parents involved,” he said.
The Senate approved an earlier version of “don’t say gay” in 2011, but the bill later died in the House and never became law. Campfield said the new version is “completely different” and “gets rid of some of the old perceptions” about the legislation.