(Photo: AP Images / Mark Humphrey)
Families, not schools, should decide when it is an appropriate time to discuss issues on sexuality, the Tennessee senator behind the "Don’t Say Gay" bill told CNN Tuesday.
Sen. Stacey Campfield's proposed legislation would forbid public schools from teaching on homosexuality prior to the ninth grade. The bill, which calls human sexuality a "complex subject," would prohibit elementary and middle schools from providing "any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality."
The measure, SB49, is expected to head to the Tennessee Senate floor on Thursday. It was cleared by the Tennessee Senate Education Committee 6 to 3 last Wednesday. All the no votes came from Democrats.
Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville, told CNN that inspiration for the bill came from his observations of "different agendas that people are pushing" nationwide.
His proposal would leave the handling of controversial topics in the hands of parents. According to the congressman, the bill is neutral and not discriminatory because it would prevent anyone with an agenda from speaking on homosexuality in the classroom, either for or against.
"There's some people who say we should be preaching against it, saying it's evil, dirty and wrong and there's some people who say, it's a great thing," Campfield said on CNN.
"I don't think that’s appropriate. I think we need to let the families decide that, especially in the very, very young children."
When asked by the CNN anchor why the word "heterosexuality" isn't also banned if the bill is neutral, the Tennessee senator said talking about heterosexuality is needed to discuss basic reproduction in sexual education.
"[W]hen you are teaching basic reproduction, you need to talk about heterosexuality, you know X Y chromosomes and things like that, how the bare bones basics of reproduction works. Otherwise you can't talk about that stuff."
"There's no need to mention homosexuality in reproduction because obviously homosexuals don't reproduce," he added.
Campfield proposed the measure without success for six years while serving in the House.
If the bill is approved by the Senate, it would move to the Republican-controlled House.