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Tennessee Bill Seeks to Ban LGBTQ+ Content from School Textbooks

Tennessee Capitol Building

The bill would ban instructional materials "that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyle."

A new bill introduced into the Tennessee state legislature seeks to ban any textbooks or teaching materials that contain LGBTQ+ content from being used in the state.

The bill, known as H.B. 0800, was introduced by Republican lawmaker Bruce Griffey of District 75. It will be put up for consideration in front of the Education Instruction Subcommittee on March 30. If it's passed by the full Tennessee legislature and signed by the governor, it will go into effect July 1 and apply to the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

"LEAs (local education agencies) and public charter schools shall not locally adopt or use in the public schools of this state, textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyle," the bill reads.

Tennessee has another current bill that was just recommended for passage by a committee that seeks to make the Bible the official state book. The bill will proceed to the floor of the Tennessee House where it will be voted on.

Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton, who wrote the bill, told The Tennessean that he proposed the bill because the United States is a Christian nation. "This country wasn't founded on Buddhist, or Muhammad, or any of those religions," he said, "out country was founded on Judeo-Christian values."

Republican Glen Casada, who represents Franklin, agreed. "Just like Nathan Bedford Forrest and Ida B. Wells and now the Bible, it's just our common heritage," Casada said, invoking the name of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. "And those things should be welcomed by everyone in Tennessee. You don't have to agree. You don't have to like it, but it's part of our common heritage."

The textbook bill is part of a wide ranging attack on LGBTQ+ people from Republicans. So far over 110 bills targeting LGBTQ+ Americans have been proposed this legislative session. Of the bills, most specifically target trans people. As of March 6, there were 71 bills targeting trans people, with 37 of them targeting trans student athletes.

Twenty-one of the overall number of bills are so called "religious freedom bills" that allow Christians to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people or any others they feel conflict with their religion.

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