If you're a young Tennessee student and you want to talk about what it means to be gay, you might just have to wait till high school.
The State Senate approved a bill Friday that would prevent teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade from discussing homosexuality in prepared materials or instruction, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Proposed by Knoxville's Republican Senator Stacey Campfield, the legislation states that "some subjects are best explained and discussed at home."
The bill, passed by a 20 to 10 vote, isn't likely to become law until 2012, as the Tennessee House won't consider similar legislation until next year; but that hasn't stopped a fierce debate over the measure. Originally the bill said no sexual orientation other than heterosexuality could be discussed. But a last amendment changed the language to read, "any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproductive science."
Opponents, who have dubbed SB0049 the "Don't Say Gay Bill," say it will prevent counseling for students who are struggling with their own sexuality, both at home and in the classroom.
Some legislators also took exception to the measure because in an ironic twist, it might overturn a law prohibiting sex education in early grades.
"For the first time ever," Senator Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) told th Memphis Flyer, "You now have a law that says you can teach sex education in kindergarten."
The bill also includes language that may prevent students from participating in extracurricular clubs or groups without parental permission, which some worry will discourage participation in gay straight alliance groups, or GSAs. A national survey of schools in 2009 found that violence and bullying towards homosexual students in school was reduced in schools with GSA groups.