NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee bill requiring school districts to alert parents of any instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity and let them opt their student out is heading to Republican Gov. Bill Lee.
The legislation cleared its last hurdle in the GOP-supermajority Legislature with a 64-23 House vote Wednesday. The Senate approved the bill last week.
Supporters argued the bill strengthens parental rights, rebuffing concerns from opponents that it could further alienate already-marginalized students.
Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons asked the bill sponsor what she is afraid of children being taught.
“I am not afraid,” Republican Rep. Debra Moody responded. “I am simply standing here for the parents, and the parents need to have the decision over what they think is appropriate for their child.”
The bill gives school districts 30 days to alert parents or guardians of upcoming instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. Families could opt their student out without penalty.
Democratic Rep. Antonio Parkinson called carving out school subjects a slippery slope.
“It’s LGBTQ today. And then it’s (Black Lives Matter) tomorrow. And then it’s Black history tomorrow,” Parkinson said. “And then, depending on what school it is, it could be the insurrection the next day. It could be Trump the next day.”