NASHVILLE - The so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which bans teaching about homosexuality-related issues in grades K-8, was delayed in the House Education Committee today.
Proponents tweaked the measure to address concerns about student bullying as well as school counselors' efforts to provide guidance to students.
The panel itself got off to a late start as Republican committee leaders and sponsors met behind closed doors in House Speaker Beth Harwell's office to listen to concerns about the bill from a top official from Gov. Bill Haslam's administration.
"Yes, there was someone there from the administration expressing concerns," confirmed Harwell, a Republican, "not so much necessarily about the content of the bill but rather it's been labeled a certain way in the press and how do we overcome that, I think was the concern."
The bill, now sponsored by House Education Subcommittee Chairman Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has drawn fire for more than a year from gay activists and been lampooned on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" and, most recently, liberal commentator Keith Olbermann on his "Countdown" cable program.
As passed by senators last year, the bill says "any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science."
Critics say that would stop discussions of homosexuality.