Tennessee Passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and ‘Do Be Racist’ Bills

Somebody call Dolly Parton, Tennessee needs a superhero.

Perhaps you recall the state’s clever little plan to ensure straightness by outlawing discussion of anything gay in schools? Well, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed by the Senate on Friday with a vote of 20-10. Ouch. But all is not lost. The bill hasn’t made it out of committee in the House and isn’t scheduled to come up for a vote until at least next year.

The Tennessee Equality Project and the local chapter of PFLAG aren’t letting it get there without a fight: they’re planning an “It’s OK to Say Gay” rally this Sunday at a Universalist Unitarian Church in Knoxville, emphasizing that this whole mess isn’t just about politics or a liberal agenda but about keeping kids safe. George Takei is doing his part as well by offering his name up as a replacement for the word “gay” if students and teachers are no longer allowed to say it.

What a man, what a man. I was going to say something about the force being with us, but Google is telling me that I’m confusing Star Trek and Star Wars.


In other news, meet HB 600/SB 632, a bill that aims to remove equal protection by prohibiting cities from enacting non-discrimination legislation. With race, sex, religion, and age counting among the categories listed as unavailable for protection, the bill poses a threat not only to LGBT people but to all past civil rights progress. The bill has been framed as “pro-business” rather than “anti-discrimination” and was supported by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce. Companies that lobbied include Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare.

Since the bill’s passing these companies have come under scrutiny, prompting United Health, Alcoa, Nissan, FedEx, and AT&T to issue statements. The press releases range from FedEx’s “We didn’t do it” to Alcoa’s request that the governor veto the bill. Are they against it because they care or because the bad publicity and subsequent economic consequences of working to overturn the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are too much to handle?

Q: How exactly did this inane bill manage to pass?

A: With the help of equally stupid advertisements.

The only thing I learned from this ad is that someone doesn’t understand what being gay means and might have benefited from learning about it in school. Reasons to say gay, people.

UPDATE: The Tennessee Hate Bill has been signed into law by the Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee. Reports now report that a provision stripping transgender people from legally changing their sex was also part of the bill.

Please leave messages on the facebook pages and twitter accounts of the companies responsible for this. For your own education — here’s a list of which companies from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce helped and/or screwed us on this thing. Also take a minute to sign this petition.

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      • Tennessee, this is a perfect example of the wrong fuck to give. The right fuck to give would be, “why are we ranked 48th in America’s school system and how can we improve?” It’s ok to be Takei!

  1. Dear George Takei, I love you and you’re doing everything right.

    Dear Rep McManus, there’s this thing called a slippery slope, and you’ve slid so far down it that you’re probably right back on top of another one somewhere.

    Allowing gender expression protection leads to… pedophiles? What?

  2. I interned for KPMG London in high school, can’t believe they are even getting involved in bills etc, much less ridiculous discriminatory ones like that! Very disappointing..
    Also George Takei = legend.

  3. that’s some fearmongering in that ad

    I totally want a “It’s okay to be Takei” t-shirt

  4. “The only thing I learned from this ad is that someone doesn’t understand what being gay means and might have benefitted from learning about it in school. Reasons to say gay, people.”


    • Yeah uhm… would have to see the full text of the statute, but, on its face, quite possibly unconstitutional. Hooray Equal Protection clause!

    • well, from what i can deduce, this ad says trans=pedophile.

      i can’t decide whether to be confused or in a homicidal rage.

      • You should be confused so I’m not the only one.

        Is the ad trying to suggest that protecting gender expression = no longer differentiating between men and women which… somehow means that we’re sanctioning sexual abuse?

        I CAN’T EVEN

      • I was under the impression that the man in the ad was meant to be cisgendered, but that was kind of my point, that determining someone’s sex isn’t a perfect science and is socially constructed blah blah blah.

        Anyway, by adhering rigidly to social conceptions of what is a man and what is a woman you could easily end up with scenarios like men entering a women’s restroom and vice versa (because they haven’t fully transitioned, haven’t/don’t want to have bottom surgery, etc). If that is what is bothering these people, maybe they should reconsider their viewpoints.

        *Also, I understood it more as by protecting trans/queer people we would be opening the door for pedophiles to “work the system” or something like that.

      • I’m kind of experiencing a mixture of both. Mostly I want to throw up at any and all of the implications of that ad.

  5. 1) Love love love Takei. While this add doesn’t top his PSA response to Tim Hardaway, it does make me feel better about my involuntary Star Trek filled childhood.

    2) Why doesn’t the “Say Yes” commercial show a young boy going into the bathroom followed by an adult woman? Oh yeah, because while an adult male following a girl into a bathroom is a pediphile, an adult woman following a boy into a bathroom is the his mother.

    • Besides trolling, your point is…?

      Lefthanded people, redheads, Asian-Americans–hell, even Mormons–are small minorities of the total population. But their rights to employment, housing, and basic safety are protected.

      The reason why: in this country we have a special thing called “equal protection” IN THE CONSTITUTION which says minorities deserve equal treatment under the law. Do you believe in the Constitution?

  6. “The Tennessee Equality Project and the local chapter of PFLAG aren’t letting it get there without a fight: they’re planning an “It’s OK to Say Gay” rally this Sunday at a Universalist Unitarian Church in Knoxville, emphasizing that this whole mess isn’t just about politics or a liberal agenda but about keeping kids safe. George Takei is doing his part as well by offering his name up as a replacement for the word “gay” if students and teachers are no longer allowed to say it.”
    GUYS. GUYS. I THOUGHT THAT WAS YESTERDAY AND I MISSED IT. The UU in Knoxville has a the areas only youth LGBT club that I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to go to. Another reason to go.

  7. Why is this an issue? Why should any school be discussing sexuality with elementary or middle school aged kids? Everyone on this forum is trying to be politically correct and not thinking about the consequences. Where have our morals gone?

      • People think that if we are pressued enough conservatives will just crumble and accept what the world is trying to cram down our throats. Sorry conservatives are not going away.

        • Gay, bi, and transgender people aren’t going away either, no matter how much hate and fear you try to cram down *our* throats.

          • And unlike being gay, bi or trans, being a homophobe is something you can change about yourself. So, yeah, I think the burden is on them to change – because they can, we can’t.

        • How can you imply that the rights of minorities don’t count because they’re a small part of the population on one hand and argue that it’s the entire world trying to cram this down your throat on the other? Brush up on ur logics, yo.

          Also, being gay is not just about sexuality. It has implications that go way beyond that. I don’t think anyone wants permission to diagram lesbian sex positions in classrooms (although I would have seriously enjoyed that in school) but it is important to address issues that affect every day life, like why it’s not okay to beat Johnny from down the street up because he has two moms.

        • Not all conservatives are anti-gay, pumpkin. In fact, one could say that LGBT rights *are* conservative, because why is it any business of government what people do in the privacy of their homes?

    • pretty sure I had my first sex ed class in elementary school, and sex ed several times in middle school. They sort of have to do sex ed then to prepare for this little thing called puberty.

    • It’s less about morality and more about being able to tell your middle schoolers that calling people homophobic slurs isn’t cool and that gay people have feelings too. It’s not like kids don’t know gay people exist. They regularly bully other kids they perceive to be gay to kill themselves, after all–kind of hard to do if you don’t know gay people exist.

      Kids don’t learn about gay people from their teachers, they learn about gay people from everywhere else. The point of being able to talk about at schools is to help kids. If you can’t say gay, how are you going to comfort the twelve-year-old who just came out to you?

      • this…& the kid in crisis who needs to talk to someone about FEELINGS! perhaps even gay or lesbian or otherwise-not-sexual-binary FEELINGS?!

        it’s important that people (esp. haters) need to get it in their heads that this is about fostering civil discussion (stopping hate speech) & being there for the kids who do figure it out/have the courage to explore their feelings in elementary, middle school, & high school.

        *unlike some of us who didn’t figure this stuff out until after college – ’cause we might have been too scared to “say gay” in our schools, homes, etc.* *whistles innocently*

  8. Stop This Now rep. McManus,

    You can’t go into the restroom with a little girl,

    stop it!

  9. Wow… there’s a whole lotta what the fuckery going on here. I think the only thing I can say without breaking into a raging tangent is I continue to love Mr. Takei and I continue to hate the stupidity that seems to possess the general population.

  10. Honey, I haven’t had sex since I can’t remember when. But I am always a gay person. My history, the way I interact with the world, my identity — it’s all gay. In the whole scheme of things, it has nothing to do with the act of having sex with someone, it has to do with actual humanity. And when your ilk puts filters on school web browsers that don’t allow teenagers to view a webpage about Tennessee Williams or Walt Whitman because it happens to have the word “gay” in it, that is harmful. Sure, it’s stupid and pointless, but it’s also harmful. Because once again, you’ve failed to ascribe any humanity to those people on account of their being gay. And the gay kid at school feels that — whether or not he’s sexually active. It’s about his humanity. When you don’t allow kids to learn about Harvey Milk, kids feel that. When you don’t allow them to debate civil rights, kids feel that. The list goes on and on.
    You can try to wrap this argument around sex, like all social conservatives do. But the fact remains that this isn’t really about sex. This is about a person’s humanity. And when you deny that humanity, you are responsible for the fall-out: for the gay-bashing, the tormenting, and the suicides brought on by your hate.

  11. I have a few questions:
    1) Why would not talking about something make it not exist? I have tried that with papers and projects and it DOES NOT work. And if I’m having sex ed, we better be talking about protection from STDs regardless of the gender of my partner.

    2) Who uses the public restroom in a park? Gross. You should just pee behind a bush. It is much less disgusting.

  12. “The only thing I learned from this ad is that someone doesn’t understand what being gay means and might have benefited from learning about it in school. Reasons to say gay, people.”

    Seriously! Gah, this is so fucked up. When will the idiocy end??

  13. I can’t wait to leave this country. I know I keep repeating myself, but it seems like every day I’m given a new reason to flee this sinking ship and get as far away as possible without achieving escape velocity.

    Also, George Takei is awesome beyond words.

    • I can tell you firsthand, the rest of the world ain’t much better than the U.S., and often is a lot worse. Some places like many parts of the Philippines are very open and nonchalant about lesbians and gays, but so are places in the U.S. like the cities in California where I live.

      Then there are places outside the U.S. that are absolutely medieval when it comes to the rights of gays, lesbians, women, or anyone who isn’t part of the majority. Try to go to Korea or Japan and live without being discriminated against constantly for being Chinese or any foreigner for that matter.

      Stupidity isn’t uniquely American…

  14. It’s this particular kind of nonsense that makes me think that, education and degrees attained, I should head back south [home].


  16. i went to sleep listening to lady gaga and now i wake up to this fuckery. good night kids.

    Tennessee is ranked 48th in the American public school system. FOURTY. EIGHTH. Our school system SUCKS.
    And this stupid “Don’t Say Gay” bill passes.

  18. First, George? I think I love you. I’ve always loved the name George, so this is really hitting it out of the park. TYVM. I totally want to be Lesbotakei now.

    In other news, TN you suck balls. I mean, fuck. No one ever told me that “gay” was an option when I was a kid. I didn’t even know what was going on. I just knew that Xena, She-Ra, Buffy Summers, and this girl in a canadian skating movie were awesome and I wanted to be them/their best friend/their comrade, their (lesbianlover). I didn’t come out until I was 27. Nobody mentioned gay to me, but guess what?


  19. repeal. repeal. repeal. repeal? please. I don’t know who are worse, the current politicians I am stuck with in New Jersey (Governor Chris Christie, Donald Trump probably counts from jersey, too) or the politicians in Tennessee, where I am moving to next month. Oh, and I just found out I am moving, unwillingly, to one of the only two republican districts in the whole state of Tennessee. Well isn’t that just the icing on the bible-belt-I-mean-bigot-belt cake?

  20. I think Tennessee is acting out because it is named after a gay playwright, and is anxious to demonstrate its heterostraightness to the other kids. Hopefully Tennessee will get passed middle school soon.

  21. Like Intern Grace I just cant get over the what…and then later the fuck. This shit is mind numbing. No wonder this law passed in a state that is number 48 in education because the children I know would simply laugh at this proposition, not to even mention educated voting age adults!! So in a idiots mind the fear of treating others with respect and equality equals latin looking and possibly undocumented pedophiles?

  22. They’ve obviously sat down to debate hard about “what would Jesus do” and this is all they could come up with?

  23. lol that pic of a guy holding the please say gay sign is of me lol yet another site using this photo lol its awesome this pic is every where … but the more people that know about the stupidity of this bill the better… i know my mouth is taped shut in the pic but i want every one to know … i say GAY, GAY, GAY, GAY, GAAAY! :-*

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