Senator proposes amendment to “Don’t Say Gay” bill
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 22:03
This bill, SB 0234, introduced by Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campbell, in summary, limits the presentation of sexual education material to “natural reproductive” processes for students in grades K-8. The bill has been nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
Granted, we live in a conservative state and non-heterosexual gender identity is still considered, by many, as “a choice,” “a sin” or “abnormal.” I can see why such a proposal would enjoy support in this area.
However, Campbell announced his intention to add an amendment to this bill that, as a clinical psychology major and the mother of teens, deeply concerns me. The amendment would limit with whom students are allowed to seek counsel within the school system.
The amendment would prevent students from receiving counseling from any school professional, except a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. With local schools already working on seriously tight budgets (the high school my son attends, for instance, had to cut their driver’s ed program!), such personnel are simply not available to many school systems.
As a parent of children in junior high school, I am appalled that an elected official would propose such a constraint on a child’s access to mental health services.
As a clinical psychology major, my training can only lead me to one conclusion: such a bill would inevitably lead to an increase in adolescent depression and suicide.
This bill is obviously aimed, particularly, at students who would seek counseling for concerns stemming from gender-identity issues.
Studies consistently show that adolescents and young teens who consider themselves attracted to those of the same or both sexes have a significantly higher suicide rate as it is. Limiting access to counseling in the school setting for such students could only serve to further raise those numbers.
I feel this is of particular concern to non-traditional students, as many of us are parents.
Please consider signing the petition by Tom Cogburn of Knoxville to stop this amendment.
The petition can be accessed online at: https://www.change.org/petitions/bill-haslam-governor-of-the-state-of-tennessee-exert-some-pressure-and-leadership-over-republican-extremists-in-the-state and requires only filling in seven pieces of identifying information in order to sign. You can easily add your name to the petition in less than a minute.