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The GEM Debate: Do You Agree With The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law?

Stacey Campfield

Here at Good Enough Mother we’ve never met a controversy we didn’t want to weigh in on, and now we have a new topic to debate, courtesy of Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield.

You see Senator Campfield is trying to make it illegal for grade school and middle school teachers to discuss any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality before the ninth grade. The law’s being called the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and is well on the way to becoming official – and stoking up a whole heap of controversy.

So yesterday Stacey made an appearance on CNN where he laid out his rational for the proposed legislation. Take a look:


Now we’re been here before at Good Enough Mother and we all knows kids, sex education and homosexuality are hot button issues (remember our recent fiercely argued Kids In The Castro debate?)

So here’s my take. Personally I have a couple of issues with this proposed law. First up, at least the lawmakers were enlightened enough to word homosexuality as an “orientation” instead of  a “preference”. You know what side of the coin I fall on on that one; not for a second do I believe that people choose to be gay just as I don’t believe people choose to be straight. It just is who you are.

But orientation isn’t a switch that is flipped the freshman year of high school. Judging by the sheer amount of Axe my son applies everyday, attraction, whether to the same or opposite sex, happens well before then.

The other thing that would be laughable if it weren’t so bizarre is this notion of “pushing” homosexuality. So wait, is Senator Campfield hoping that by not saying the word “gay”, society will be able to do away with homosexuality? Good Lord, man, you don’t make people gay by saying the word! If anyone needs a crash course in sex-ed it’s this dude.

Now, having said that, I need to make one more point crystal clear. I am absolutely against passing legislation that would make discussing a form of human sexuality illegal. But as a parent I want to be the one to broach the topic of sex with my kids, as I have been doing for years. To me, it’s an issue of context.  I explained to my kids years ago that some people were gay, some straight but that they were all people deserving of love End of discussion.

The problem is not all parents have those talks or are that open with their children so it falls to the education system to fill in the blanks. Outlawing the discussion of something that takes place in roughly 10 percent of the animal kingdom (humans included) is not filling in the blanks or even coming close to your stated goal of educating youngsters. Instead you further confuse those who might come to you for answers and throw in a heaping helping of shame in the process.  The best choice is that this information comes from parents but I’m hard pressed to think of a worse option than tongue-tying teachers about it.

Okay, that’s my take, your turn now.

Here’s today’s GEM Debate:

Do you agree with Campfield’s proposed law? Is outlawing talk of anything other than heterosexuality until the ninth grade a good idea? Why or why not? And how have you broached this and other topics of sex with your kids?

Fire away!



  1. Remote Patrolled

    April 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Hmm, I’m seeing some major ‘gayface’ from Stacey!

  2. PiecesOfEight

    April 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Stacey is probably a power bottom

    (you can delete this if is too much)

  3. Rene Syler

    April 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    @PiecesOfEight: Whoo hoo.. LOL! Delete? Here? What’s that? 🙂

  4. Lucinda

    April 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Have to confess…I didn’t watch the video…don’t with to get heated about it. But I am tired of asinine politicians and their ridiculous ideas of what should be law.

    I agree with all the points you’ve made in your post. I attempt to be as honest as possible with my kids about the world. Helps them to be better prepared for reality. We don’t need no fantasy education.

  5. Lucinda

    April 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    ETA…I don’t WISH to get heated about it. :oP

  6. Smarty P. Jones

    April 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Didn’t I tell y’all you needed a passport to go to Tennessee?! I lived there for two years and I gotta tell you, some of those people are STILL batshit crazy.

    GEM, you know how I feel about censorship and let’s face it, that’s what it is. The first amendment is a beautiful thing, so is education. What kind of example are you setting for kids by teaching them that it’s wrong to even SAY “gay?” Are we forgetting that the word gay is actually an adjective and an emotion and was long before it was a description for homosexual men?

    This law will be amongst some of the most asinine on the books much like the law passed in some state years ago that it is illegal to eat ice cream on a sidewalk on a Sunday afternoon. As silly as that sounds, it was passed because of the discomfort of some silly politican or a family member much like this one.

    It’s a damn shame that people are so uncomfortable and unnerved by people who have done no harm to them that they want to outlaw speech. This is silly and unconstitutional and a misuse of taxpayer money. If he wants to argue something in favor of education, perhaps he should take up the cause of why his state is constantly stealing from their children’s future by taking away the necessary funds needed to educate the children of that state. With the way politicians operate, I wonder if he even has school-age children and whether or not they attend public schools because let’s face it, it’s easier to make those kinds of decisions when you’re not directly affected.

    The bottom line is this is a childiish way of imposing his homophobic views upon the teachers and students of the Volunteer State and I can not wait for the ACLU shit storm that will follow this.

    *walks away mumbling cuss words*

  7. Rob Dyer

    April 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Oh I am sure we will be reading about him with a male intern in a bathroom stall soon. And if not WTF…Stop the judging and hatred. I knew when I came out of the womb…you can’t change me, help these little kids before some dick like this creates self-loathing and false information to these innocent creatures. Trust me….if I had a choice at birth it would not have been skipping thru the gay door but it wasn’t a choice or an option so STOP!! Thanks Nene for bringing these subjects forward…it means so much and to know that celebrities and talented people like you support and love us makes even that much better!!!

  8. Rene Syler

    April 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    @Smarty: Oh man, you know I love this whole response. It is clear to me that your way with words has taken you far and there will be no stopping you as long as you arm yourself with “ACLU shitstorm”. Whoo, LOVE and it’s do true.. all of your response is! Thanks!!

  9. Rene Syler

    April 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    @Rob: The gay door. Is that Door number 2 on Let’s Make a Deal? haha. No seriously, among other things, I take a lot of my cues from my kids for whom this is really very much a non-issue. When I said this dude needed sex ed, I meant it for exactly the point you made about knowing when you came out of the womb. It’s not a choice. But I think so many of these politicians pander to their base they are forced to say stupid things to get elected or stay in office. That’s what I love about what I do now. I think it, I say it, I write it, I can’t be fired. Love it! Thanks buddy, now close the gay door behind you so the cool air stays inside 🙂

  10. Rob Dyer

    April 27, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    You so funny! But seriously, thanks for caring enough to carry our message. It sure means more than you will ever know!!!

  11. Kimber Bennett - The DOB

    April 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Didn’t watch the vid – trusted your fine distillation skills -have had enough silly-vid today with all the Trump/birther BS.

    But here’s my take, for what it’s worth.

    Outlawing a word will not make it go away, it will not make what the word stands for go away, and it certainly will not have the effect this “learned politico” hopes it will have. Instead, the word will take on a taboo quality, which means the kiddies will be drawn to using it like a fly is drawn to….you know, the smelly stuff of which this proposed law reeks.

    And I find it particularly interesting that this ban is only against using it in the proper context, educating children about the world in which they and shall one day be expected to run with wisdom and compassion; apparently, it’ll still be OK for it to be used by the general public in all contexts, including as a hate-filled, vicious, homophobic slur. Interesting. But somehow not surprising.

    I guess this is just a gentle reminder that intolerance will always try to rear it’s fugly head, and we have to remain vigilant, standing at the ready to deliver the bitch-slappin’ it deserves.

    (Hm, my comments just included a few terms that a teacher should definitely not use while teaching, but I don’t believe any of them have been deemed illegal. Interesting.)

  12. Kimber Bennett - The DOB

    April 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Aw, hell, “the world in which they live” – I hate typos.

  13. Amanda

    April 27, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Here’s where I stand about the issue. If you don’t want to talk homosexuality in schools, you shouldn’t talk heterosexuality in schools. You can learn reproduction without ever saying the word “heterosexual,” I promise! If you want to ban talking about sexuality in schools (which I personally don’t agree with), ban all sides!

    On the other hand, if you’re teaching sex education, teach it from all sides. This governor says homosexuality is something that should be discussed at home. But sex ed is “appropriate” enough for schools? If you’re talking about sex ed, at least mention homosexuality! It is not fair to the gay and lesbian kids learning information that won’t be helpful to them in the future. (Then again, I don’t know much about Tennessee, and for all I know, they teach abstinence only… which is just bad for every student, regardless of orientation.)

    And finally, I think his angle on why the gay and lesbian community should embrace this law is COMPLETELY out there. “Well would you want teachers saying that gays are an abomination?” No, and they shouldn’t say that regardless of whether or not there is a law!

  14. Rene Syler

    April 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    @Kimber: Great points. BTW, you are responding to a woman who tweeted #wineisGodsproffhelovesus and said nothing. I believe I can over look this minor infraction, LOL thanks again!

  15. Rene Syler

    April 28, 2011 at 12:01 am

    @Amanda, thanks for chiming in. I know a bit about you now from following you on twitter. Tell me, how do people your age feel about homosexuality? For my kids who are middle schoolers, it’s really sort of a non-starter. I wonder if it’s their age or their mother. But I am curious about college age folks. Thanks!

  16. Amanda

    April 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I think it really depends on the student and the college, and probably even the high school and the parents. Although I don’t go to one, I’ve heard some students in religious schools, for instance, are more conservative and would probably be less accepting.

    Personally, I came from a high school that wasn’t super tolerant. Boys couldn’t bring other boys to prom, but girls could bring other girls, which made no sense to me, and some students would rip down fliers for the gay-straight alliance. But I did have gay friends in high school, and for the most part they seemed to be accepted, at least by their friends. College seems to be more tolerant than high school, especially with the prevalence of clubs like LGBTA. I like think every generation becomes more and more tolerant, but obviously there are always exceptions. I have even more gay friends now, and it makes me sad that they have to deal with people who don’t accept them. A friend should be a friend, regardless of orientation. That goes double for parents who don’t accept homosexual students. That makes me even more sad. I’ve also seen that it’s harder for females to come out as being homosexual than males. Another thing that makes me sad. It’s not really acceptance when you’re only accepting half the group.

    I don’t know if that answered your question at all, but basically I’d say that homosexual students are generally accepted by their peers, at least in my circles. There are always the people that “don’t agree with the lifestyle,” but often they still stay friends with the person. And I’ve found most people around my age, at least the ones that I associate with, would be against this law, against anti-gay marriage laws, etc.

  17. Rene Syler

    April 28, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Amanda: you answered perfectly, thanks!!

  18. Irene

    April 28, 2011 at 7:34 am

    My Gawd can humans muck up stuff sometimes…..Hope this law doesn’t make it anywhere….

  19. Valerie

    April 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

    This is yet another reason I am glad that I no longer live in my home state of Tennessee. I moved from Tennessee to Florida to pursue a new career three years ago. This is the sad mentality that run rampant throughout TN and the South. However these are not the views of everyone. There are many open minded, progressive, gay friendly people in the South. It feels like our voices don’t get heard because the most ignorant voices seem to be the loudest.

  20. m.e. johnson

    April 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    From what I read quite a bit of this “get rid of the gays” and “put women back in their place” garbage comes from religious fanatics who give a lot of money (buy a lot of votes). If you want to know what might happen if they ever get a toe-hold, you GOTTA read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

    I don’t want to even think about this bill passing. What will be next, hmmmm?

  21. pattyrowland

    May 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

    i think a law is stupid – or should i say gay!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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