Marcel Neergard speaking to local ABC news affiliate on the sucess of his petition to resind the ‘Reformer of the Year’ award from Tennessee Rep John Ragan.
Marcel’s StudentsFirst Petition Video (short) (by MJ N)
TW talk of bullying, suicide
Sign the petition here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell…
Yay! Now lets see what happens to the bill in Missouri…
The so-called “Don’t Say Gay bill,” which perhaps brought more national attention for the Tennessee Legislature than any other piece of legislation, will not be put to a final vote needed for passage, the measure’s House sponsor said Sunday.
The decision by Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, means that SB49 will die with the adjournment of the 107th General Assembly. Legislative leaders hope that will be today.
Hensley said the officials of the Department of Education and the state Board of Education have pledged to send a letter to all Tennessee schools “telling them they cannot teach this subject in grades kindergarten through eight.”
"With that assurance and the opposition of some people who didn’t want to vote on it, I’ve decided simply not to bring it up," said Hensley.
The bill passed the Senate last year and recently won approval in modified form from the House Education Committee on an 8-7 vote. It needed only the approval of the Calendar Committee, usually a routine matter, to be set for a floor vote.
Hensley said nickname the bill received “really wasn’t what the bill was all about” and contributed to unease of some legislators in voting on the measure. He said the bill could be re-filed next year if there is any indication of “alternate lifestyles” being prompted in Tennessee schools despite the pending letter.
The operative language of the amended version says that in grades K-8 any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited.”
The Tennessee Senate just days ago passed their alternative to the much lampooned “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would classify holding hands as a “gateway sexual activity” in their new “family life education curriculum.” The bill also specific provisions that allow parents to sue teachers if they deviate from the specified curriculum.
For the past few years Tennessee has been the subject of nationwide ire for its attempts to pass an infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that would have prohibited the mentioning of anything about homosexuality buy teachers or students.
“In a new family life instructions bill, holding hands and kissing could be considered gateways to sex. Planned Parenthood said that allowing state government to define local sex education curriculum could backfire,” Tennessee’s WMC TV reports:
According to a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Study, 61 percent of Memphis City high school students and 27 percent of middle school students have had sex. That’s higher than the national average.
Planned Parenthood said these numbers are why a new sex education bill promoting abstinence is not realistic.
“If the state of Tennessee gets to create the curriculum, it has to create something that umbrella reflects everyone,” said Planned Parenthood Director of Education Elokin CaPese.
“It makes it very clear that you can’t promote contraception,” said CaPese.
Tennessee Lawmakers: We Need To Chat (by Allegiance - A New Musical)
'It's OK to be Takei'
But can we still say Takei?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A panel in the Tennessee state House on Wednesday voted to advance the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a measure that would prohibit Tennessee public schools from teaching LGBTQ-related issues.
The legislation limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproduction science” in kindergarten through the eighth grades, and cleared its first hurdle in the state House on a voice vote of the House Education subcommittee.
The panel accepted the version of the bill that passed the state Senate late in last year’s session.
During the hearing, Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) stated the amended version of the bill is in line with current curriculum and is consistent with what is already written in Title 49 of the Tennessee Code Annotated.
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), was the only member of the subcommittee to speak against the measure, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”
The Tennessee Equality Project said there is no curriculum in Tennessee that discusses sexuality in grades K-8, so the bill is unnecessary.
The bill, first proposed in 2008 by state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), was approved last May following his three year effort to implement the ban.
Campfield has said the bill is necessary because homosexuality is a “learned behavior.”
Though supporters of the bill assert that it is ideologically neutral, and allows families to discuss the sensitive topic of sexuality when parents feel their children are ready, many have noted that the bill actually ostracizes LGBT students since it promotes heterosexuality as the only form of sexuality that can be discussed by teachers.
Opponents of the bill also claim it will prevent teachers and school officials from preventing the bullying of LGBTQ youths.
Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield was reportedly kicked out of a local Knoxville, Tennessee restaurant for recent comments he made about gay people and HIV/AIDS. The Facebook page of Bistro at the Bijou reads, “I hope that Stacy Campfield now knows what if feels like to be unfairly discriminated against,” and in only 14 hours has 478 likes.
Campfield has become infamous for his comments last week to veteran LGBT journalist Michelangelo Signorile, in which he claimed it was “virtually impossible” to contract HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex. Campfield is also the force behind his state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Of course, Campfield now is claiming his comments were taken out of context, but he still stands by them.
You can sign the petition to fire Campfield, and like the Facebook page that is attempting to recall him.
Now, here’s where the going gets scary.
Campfield actually pointed to this website, claiming it offered the “cold hard facts” on the “homosexual lifespan.” Remember, this is a sitting state senator who is relying on some freakish website that looks like it was made in the early 1990′s as his source for ”cold hard facts.”
And we wonder why the ignorant remain ignorant when the Internet actually has factual information as well. The is a state senator and he doesn’t bother to contact government authorities, like, the CDC, to get facts on HIV/AIDS?
Think Progress adds:
But the facts don’t back up Campfield’s vicious lies. Most women who have been infected with HIV were infected through heterosexual sex, many from their husbands or boyfriends. In 2007, women made up more than 60 percent of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Global Council on Health reports that the male-to-female transmission of HIV is twice as likely as the female-to-male transmission. Not to mention the fact that his claim that gays and lesbians have shorter lifespans has already been thoroughly debunked.
Campfield defended his outrageous comments, saying he was simply speaking “on the fly,” and that while he’s not an AIDS historian, “I’ve read and seen what other people have read and seen and those facts are out there.”
UPDATE: We first reported that ‘Towleroad was the first to report the story.” It now appears a local Tennessee blogger, Sean Braisted, was the first to report the news, and Michelangelo Signorile tweeted the piece this morning. We try to give credit where credit is due, although it’s not always apparent! Thanks, Sean, for the excellent column. Here’s an excerpt:
Stacey Campfield, who I’ve met, talked to, and actually kind of like as a human being, is a person of power in this state who has used said power to promote discrimination, misinformation, and outright hatred towards his constituents and other Tennesseans. Knoxvillains who wish to eat out have a whole host of different options from which to choose from. But Tennesseans who want equal representation and rights have only one legislature to look to. While there are many representatives, theirs, Stacey Campfield has made it a mission in his life to make life harder for those who don’t fit his own personal view of ‘normal’.
There is nothing inconsistent or incoherent about discriminating against those with power who actively discriminate against those without power. There is no difference between refusing to serve David Duke than there is Stacey Campfield.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Stacey Campfield as Stacey Campbell in the first paragraph.
So sad. R.I.P.
GORDONSVILLE, Tenn. — Another gay teen has been lost to anti-gay bullying — Phillip Parker, 14, died last week, the victim of an apparent suicide.
His parents said Phillip was constantly bullied because he was gay.
“He was fun, he was energetic, he was happy,” said Gena Parker, Phillip’s mother.
To his many friends, Phillip was known as the boy who told everyone they’re beautiful.
“He kept telling me he had a rock on his chest,” said Ruby Harris, Phillip’s grandmother. “He just wanted to take the rock off where he could breathe.”
Phillip’s family said they reported their concerns over their son’s bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.
“I believe my whole family up in heaven’s taking good care of him,” said friend Megan Redinger.
“I want to say I love him dearly,” added friend Heather Hunt. “He’ll never be forgotten. He’s always in my heart.”
“That’s my son,” said Phillip Parker, Phillip’s father. “I love him. I miss him. He shouldn’t have had to kill himself to be brought to life.”
WSMV reported that more than 100 people gathered for a memorial service on Saturday night to grieve for the loss of Phillip.
An official at Smith County Schools said they are now planning how to address the situation with students on Monday.
A community page on Facebook for Phillip is here.
If it weren’t discouraging enough that the Tennessee legislature will consider a “license to bully” bill and reconsider the “don’t say gay” bill, the new session has opened with the introduction of a blatantly transphobic bathroom bill. Sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R), the bill (SB 2282) would institute a $50 fine for anybody who does not use the public restroom or dressing room that matches the sex identification on his or her birth certificate:
(b) Except as provided in § 68-15-303, where a restroom or dressing room in a public building is designated for use by members of one particular sex, only members of that particular sex shall be permitted to use that restroom or dressing room.
(c) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00).
If passed, this bill would make Tennessee a particularly unfriendly place for people who are transgender. Tennessee law does not allow for the sex to be changed on birth certificates, which means this law would make it illegal for transgender people to utilize any public accommodations that match their gender. It would also impose on any businesses — such as Macy’s — that have transgender-inclusive policies.
Last year, the Family Action Council of Tennessee ran transphobic ads to support a bill that banned all municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The ads rehashed the “bathroom meme,” the fear that all transgender people are sexual predators trying to use the wrong restroom to find children to abuse. In reality, there has never been a case of someone using a transgender identity to molest children, nor is there anything to suggest that this bill would do anything to make children safer from actual predators. (HT: Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.)
Over the past week, the “license to bully” bill that may be considered by the Tennessee Legislature, has been blowing up in the media. From CNN (where the awesome Michelle Bliss from the Tennessee Equality Project defended the rights of students) to bloggers, newspapers, and magazines, countless people have weighed in with their thoughts about the proposed legislation.
In an article in The Atlantic on Saturday, Wendy Kaminer, a noted libertarian, weighed in on the matter, giving the typical libertarian response regarding protected speech.
To her, anti-bullying laws are a potentially dangerous affront to First Amendment rights, because it would criminalize the religious and moral beliefs of American citizens.
I take issue with Ms. Kaminer’s position in several ways. In her analysis she states that:
You shouldn’t have to study this language (of the Tennessee bill) to recognize that opposing it means supporting infringements on First Amendment rights and punishing students who express religious, philosophical, or political ideas that others find discomforting or unpleasant.
First off, Ms. Kaminer is confusing “religious, philosophical, or political ideas that some may find unpleasant” with harassment. There is a fundamental and clear difference between the two.
An example of this could be found using the African-American community. A pro-life individual could have a political position regarding abortion and its impact upon the African-American community, and that would be protected speech. Yes, labeling a woman’s right to choose as “racial genocide” might be construed as discomforting and unpleasant, but it is just that, political speech that one finds unpleasant. It is not denigrating or harassing a people group because of a characteristic that that group shares.
On the other hand, if that same person started yelling racial slurs at an African-American person, that would cross the line from “discomfort” or “unpleasantness” to actual harassment, because it is now the individual who is being attacked.
Harassment occurs when the bully moves from attacking an “idea” to attacking an individual or a characteristic of that individual. It occurs within our school system when a child is called out, not because of a political position that they hold, but instead because of whom they are, whatever race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or weight they may have.
An another example: Michele Obama has proposed legislation that deals with childhood obesity, by promoting healthy food choices and alternatives to fast food. That is a political position, and a policy that can be debated upon its merits.
Yet, under the proposed legislation in Tennessee, not only would a discussion of the political ramifications of the First Lady’s program be allowed, but an overweight school kid could be bullied for his weight, because the bully could say that the overweight kid is a “glutton” and violating the biblical standards of self-control.
Ms. Kaminer then goes on to assert that the proposed legislation is actually a good thing for LGBT activists and students in Tennessee because it:
“would also protect the rights of gay students to advocate for same-sex marriage, equal employment laws, health care equality, or gay adoptions, among other issues — even if their advocacy is unpopular and considered by some “unpleasant.”
Though Ms. Kaminer may mean well, and her defense of freedom of speech (an essential American right) is admirable; it is unfortunately quite misguided. As shown within the above paragraph, Ms. Kaminer does not understand the difference between advocating for a political position (which, by the way, I do not see as having an relevance in a school system), to harassment.
The former is of course protected by the First Amendment; but for the second, one is hard pressed to find justification for such protections. Instead of having any legitimacy, the allowance of bullying based upon ones “religious, political, or philosophical” belief, has only one purpose — it gives students the right to demean, denigrate, and cause direct pain to countless children within our school system.
And that, my readers, is why Tennessee’s “license to bully” bill MUST fail.
Kinda makes you wonder, WWJD?
A proposed bill in Tennessee would create a loophole in the state’s anti-bullying laws to protect those expressing religious, philosophical or political beliefs, which one proponent says would ensure that people can still express their “views on homosexuality.”
The proposed bill would amend the state’s current anti-bullying laws to specify that the anti-bully policy should “not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views” as long as there’s no physical threat or threat to another student’s property.
David Fowler, a former Republican state Senator and current Christian activist, is pushing for the legislature to take up the bill in the new year after it stalled before the end of the last session. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Fowler sent out a newsletter for his group the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) in December that said he wants “to make sure [the law] protects the religious liberty and free speech rights of students who want to express their views on homosexuality.”
“The purpose is to stop bullying, not create special classes of people who are more important than others,” Fowler told the Times Free Press.
Gay rights activists in the state say the new bill would create a “license to bully” gay teens, and point to the suicide of a teenager named Jacob Rogers, who had reportedly been repeatedly bullied for being gay.
“This kind of legislation can send a message that it’s OK to hate and we’ll even give you religious sanction for it. You can say what you want. As long as you say it’s for religious reasons, you’ve got backup,” Chris Sanders, of the Tennessee Equality Project, told WSMV4.
FACT said on its radio show of Rogers’ death: “It is wrong to bully people because of their sexual practices. But it’s wrong to bully people period. The larger lesson here is that these tragedies are often the rotten fruit of the all-about-me individualistic culture that comes when we deny the existence of God and his image in us. When life and people become cheap, tragedy is the result.”
Tennessee’s legislature previously considered a “don’t say gay” bill — which prevented teachers from discussing gays and lesbians with students in grades K-8 — but it also stalled in the last session.
A spokesman for state Sen. Jim Tracy (R), who sponsored the bill in the last session, said Tracy is “reviewing the legislation” and will probably “narrow” the “very broad” language.
In November, Michigan’s Republican-led state Senate approved a bill with similar language that carved out a “moral convictions” loophole for bullies, but they backed off and compromised in the resultant controversy.
Tennessee resident Andrea Jones effectively demonstrated this week how poorly transgender people can be treated. According to the federal government, Jones is a woman, but Tennessee’s Department of Safety says she doesn’t have enough proof to have her state gender documentation changed. The state claims she only had partial sexual reassignment surgery and state law requires a “full sex change” to recognize a change of gender. When her paperwork was rejected, she went outside and removed her shirt in protest, for which she was arrested. The police report read:
Mr. Jones continued to yell that he had the right to show his breasts in public and wanted to be recognized as a female.
If the state recognizes her as a male, then it was not against the law for her to remove her shirt in public, as only the showing of “the female breast” counts as public indecency under Tennessee law. The state is essentially punishing her both for being female enough and for not being female enough, whereas the federal government already recognizes her as female.
Jones’ story demonstrates how unrealistic it is to set standards of “proof” for people to identify their gender transition. If trans people were celebrated for their authenticity, they would not face the undue hardship of being punished just for being who they are.
WATE has a video report of Jones’ struggle.
By Darryl Morris • Saturday, May 21, 2011 •
Tennessee lawmaker Stacey Campfield has spent the better part of the last seven years in the Tennessee legislature fighting for the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a law aimed at prohibiting teachers from discussing homosexuality in kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms.
On Friday, the Tennessee state Senate approved an amended version of Campfield’s controversial bill, which would now restrict the teaching of sexuality issues to natural human reproduction only.
Campfield, a 42-year-old confirmed bachelor with no kids of his own, said the bill was necessary because homosexuality is a “learned behavior.”
“If I can take one thing away and say, hey, you don’t have to teach about homosexuality to your second-graders, you can spend more time on arithmetic,” said Campfield, suggesting that homosexuality was part of the elementary school curriculum — which it is not.
Now Campfield (R-Knoxville), has another bill making its way through the legislature, SB 426, which originally called for school systems to send home a list of clubs and organizations on each campus, so that parents could veto some in advance.
Opponents have claimed Campfield is targeting gay-straight alliance groups, since many students who are out to their peers are still struggling to come out to their parents.
But when the Senate was expected to vote on the bill Monday, Campfield amended it to be even more restrictive — the new “opt-in” version would require a parent to send a separate permission slip for any and all extracurricular activities:
“Some parents may not want kids to be involved in clubs, for whatever reasons. They may say, Hey, Johnny or Billy is doing poor in school, I don’t want him doing chess club, or dance club or whoever knows what club. We may want him to be studying, instead. This is just to give those parents that approval power, similar to what we do for sports.”
Some Senators called Campfield’s “opt-in” version overkill. They spun stories of their own children’s involvement with the school system -– a not-so-subtle dig at the Campfield, who’s not exactly an authority on parenting.
But Campfield ignored the digs and continued to argue for increased parental controls.
Eventually, Republican Senators sent the bill back to the Senate Education Committee for more study, where an “opt-out” amendment prevailed.
In the “opt-out” version, which the committee has now sent back to the full Senate, schools would be required to print notification within student handbooks of a parent’s right to opt their child out of school clubs.
The Tennessee Equality Project said the “opt out” version of the bill would preserve gay-straight alliances in Tennessee schools, and it advocating that Senators approve it without any additional amendments. A petition has been launched at Change.org.
The Senate could vote on the bill anytime this week while in session.
George Takei vs. Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill (by allegiancebway)