HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would ban teaching LGBTQ+ issues in public schools.
This comes after discussion about it went on hiatus due to the pandemic, according to its sponsor.
We spoke with a representative and a member of Chattanooga's queer community about what this would mean for the future of education.
The bill would prohibit "public charter schools from adopting or using textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles."
Rep. Bruce Griffey, who is sponsoring the bill, says Tennessee public schools should focus students attention on academics, curricula and student success in reading and mathematics.
"What it seeks to do is say we're not going to get into the LGBTQ lifestyle issues in public schools," says Griffey.
Jude Olubodon, parent of a Transgender child attending a Hamilton County school, says the bill is a form of censorship.
Olubodon says if passed this could affect the mental health of queer students.
"You're contributing to our children's fear, you're contributing to our children's deaths," says Olubodon.
Griffey says the amount of queer content in schools is hard to estimate. But, he adds that LGBTQ+ content could offend those with Christian values.
We asked Rep. Griffey what prompted this bill.
"I've had parents complain about a lot of the LGBTQ issues being brought up discussed and promoted in schools," says Griffey.
He believes if Christian principles are not taught in schools, neither should other social belief systems be.
"This isn’t about targeting the LGBTQ community, Its about keeping students focused on the curricula," says Griffey.
Olubodon recently removed her Transgender daughter from Hamilton County Schools.
She says if the bill does pass, it could add to queer children’s fear.
"You are continuing our deaths and robbing us of our very essence," says Olubodon.
Griffey says this isn’t about targeting the queer community, it’s about keeping students focused on traditional academic subjects.
"I really wish we would focus on that, and let's not focus so much on social current event issues," said Griffey.
But, a queer representative right here in Chattanooga doesn’t think that’s the case.
"Just further divides between the LGBT community and those who oppose us," says Kye Sayers, Founder of Sanctuary Community Performing Arts Center in Chattanooga.
Currently this bill is under fiscal review and is waiting for the next steps toward approval.
Representative Griffey tells us this bill is in efforts to make improvements in Tennessee's education system.