The US state of Tennessee has progressed a bill which would prohibit public schools from using or displaying books containing LGBTQ+ themes, with the state education instruction subcommittee passing it by a 6-3 vote. House Bill 800 states books that “promote, normalise, support or address controversial issues” should be banned from schools, and includes any books which discuss LGBTQ+ identities or issues under this umbrella.
The bill was introduced by Republican congressman Bruce Griffey, who said he doesn’t want the “state of Tennessee teaching my daughters about sex and lifestyle changes”, as cited by The Tennessee Holler. Many are concerned about the impact HB 800 could have if passed successfully, with Professor Patrick R Grzanka from the University of Tennessee saying it is aiming to “erase LGBTQ+ people and issues from public school curricula completely, scrubbing them from human civilisation”.
He wrote an opinion piece for The Tennessean, saying the regulations would silence discussions of prominent LGBTQ+ figures such as Alan Turing, Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin. He concluded: “I’d like to…ask my fellow Tennesseans how they might feel about a law specifying that the parents of gay, lesbian, or trans children must be notified 30 days in advance of any “straight” or “cisgender” curriculum, afforded to opportunity to review such teaching, and then excuse their student from class and provided an alternative assignment.”
The potential ban on LGBTQ+ books follows a separate bill which would allow parents to “opt out” their children from being taught anything relating to LGBTQ+ people. This bill was also passed by the state education instruction subcommittee.