One Equal World

Tennessee: Voicing Religion but Bullying Gays?

Posted on: April 1, 2014

Legislation was passed this week in Tennessee, known as Tennessee’s Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, or HB 1547. It was introduced in the house by Rep. Courtney Rogers (R) and is supposedly to combat discrimination against students who want to express their religious view points. The bill steamrolled through both the House and Senate, earning a 90-2 vote in the lower chamber and a 32-0 vote in the Senate.LGBT Bible

At face value, the legislation doesn’t sound very disagreeable, but there are certain aspects that can cause an eyebrow rise. The legislation states:

This bill prohibits an LEA from discriminating against a student based on a religious viewpoint expressed by the student on an otherwise permissible subject. This bill requires an LEA to treat a student’s voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the LEA treats a student’s voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject.

The bill comes in a state where there are no problems with anti-religious discrimination in schools. The law then mandates that students can express their religious beliefs in homework, artwork and written assignments. The text says this means children must be free “of discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.” A student cannot therefore be “penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content” of their work.

The overriding concern coming out of the bill is that it will allow verbal bullying of LGBT children, so long as it is covered with religious overtones.



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