(Photo: AP Images / Mark Humphrey)
Tenn. State Sen. Stacey Campfield has come under attack after he reintroduced the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would prohibit teachers from discussing sexuality with their students and require schools to inform parents if a child has engaged in homosexual activity.
Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville, is being criticized online for reviving what is officially titled "Classroom Protection Act," and for responding to opponents saying they need therapy and medication for their anger.
While it is cool that Campfield personally responds to emails from his constituents, it's not so fun that if he doesn't like what you say, he'll tell you you're a mental case, TMZ remarked Friday. "You seem to have some serious, deep anger issues," the celebrity news website quoted the lawmaker as responding to a critic by email. "Have you ever thought about therapy? I hear they are doing some wonderful things with medications these days."
The bill, which forbids teachers from discussing anything gay-related from kindergarten through 8th grade, passed the Senate in 2011, but was awaiting a final vote.
Senate Bill 234, reintroduced to the Tennessee General Assembly this week, includes an amendment allowing school counselors, principals, assistant principals and nurses to counsel potentially gay students or inform their parents in some circumstances.
It states that certain subjects are particularly sensitive and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the home. "Because of its complex societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications, human sexuality is one such subject. Human sexuality is best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp its complexity and implications."
Therefore, 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."
Opponents are gearing up for a fight over the measure. "It's kind of like 'Don't Say Gay' on steroids," The Tennessean quoted Chris Sanders, chairman and president of the LGBT group Tennessee Equality Project as saying. "He's listened to the objections and ended up making it worse."
TMZ asked Campfield why he wrote a "nasty" email to the critic. The senator replied, "When somebody gets into insulting or cussing or something along those lines, it breaks down communication and is not respectful."
Campfield, however, added that he was willing to engage in "dialogue" with his critic, as opposed to mere expression of anger.