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Tennessee state senator Stacey Campfield (pictured) doesn't want public school teachers to tell students anything about homosexuality -- and he wants to debate his "don't say gay" bill with gay playwright and filmmaker Del Shores.
A senate committee this week voted 6-3 to advance Campfield's bill to consideration by the full senate, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. The legislation would prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in public school classes in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville, advocated for such a measure, without success, for six years in the state house of representatives before he was elected to the senate. The senate education committee approved the bill Wednesday after various changes in wording and discussion as to whether it was needed. All the no votes came from Democrats.
Campfield has received criticism from some quarters for seeking a $1,000 retainer fee from Shores, of Sordid Lives fame, to debate the bill with Shores.. Tennessee has a law barring legislators receiving compensation, other than salary and expenses due from the state, for anything related to their duties. Another statute prohibits them from receiving honorariums for speaking engagements, aside from travel expenses. State ethics officials say the fee probably would not violate the former law but may violate the latter, although a formal complaint would have to be filed to start an investigation.
Campfield claims the $1,000 would merely be a deposit on his travel expenses to Texas. "I'm not going to pay air fare to Texas and a hotel, then have the guy stiff me," he told the News Sentinel.
Shores says he wants to debate the bill in Knoxville and Campfield requested the $1,000 as an appearance fee.
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