published Thursday, February 9th, 2012

‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill delayed in Tennessee House

Supporters and opponents of proposals to make illegal to teach elementary and middle school students about gay issues crowd a committee room in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. But the House Education Subcommittee adjoured before taking up the measures an overflow crowd had arrived to see. At left, checking phone, is Bobbie Patray, state president of the Eagle Forum and supporter of the bill sponsored by Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenald. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
Supporters and opponents of proposals to make illegal to teach elementary and middle school students about gay issues crowd a committee room in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. But the House Education Subcommittee adjoured before taking up the measures an overflow crowd had arrived to see. At left, checking phone, is Bobbie Patray, state president of the Eagle Forum and supporter of the bill sponsored by Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenald. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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NASHVILLE — Opponents of a measure that seeks to ban Tennessee public schools from teaching about gay issues said Wednesday they will continue to show up in large groups to protest the legislation.

The proposal, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is sponsored by Rep. Joey Hensley and was scheduled to be heard in the House Education Subcommittee.

The Hohenwald Republican, who is chairman of the subcommittee, said he wanted to be out of the committee room by a certain time so he delayed taking up his bill and others until next week.

“It was just last on the calendar, and there were three or four bills left,” he said. “If we would have had time, we certainly would have heard all the bills. We’ll put it on the calendar first next week.”

Chris Sanders is chairman of the Nashville committee of the Tennessee Equality Project, which organized the gathering of protesters.

He said he doesn’t view Hensley’s decision as disrespectful, but that the protesters will be “keeping the pressure on.”

Protester Eric Patton said he didn’t necessarily object to Hensley’s proposal being delayed because he doesn’t want to see it voted on at all.

“The longer it’s not in the law, that’s OK with me,” said the 21-year-old.

The companion to Hensley’s proposal passed the Senate last year. It limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Hensley said he plans to amend the House version to say the same thing.

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