There's another bill to watch for this legislative session. Senate Bill 4 prevents the State Board of Education from adopting standards for social and emotional learning. The sponsors are Senators Gresham, Beavers, Crowe, Bell, Roberts, and Tracy.
You can find contact information for each Senate sponsor at the link underlining their name and let them know your view of the bill.
So is the bill anti-LGBT? Let's have some recent history first.
It was announced over the summer that Tennessee would become a national leader in social and emotional learning standards in our public schools. See this piece by Chalkbeat. But then in September, Tennessee backed out in the face of resistance.
So who could possibly be against social and emotional learning in schools? Socially conservative organizations.
So what are the objections? The objections seem to fall into two areas--authority for the program and content. In terms of authority, the argument against the standards seems to be that parents should set such standards. There is also a question of whether Tennessee should be collaborating with other states. In terms of content, the argument isn't as clear, but some of the polemic seems to focus on the idea of safe spaces.
But is the bill anti-LGBT? There is a strong probability. Given who is opposed to these standards (the same crowd that is always against LGBT equality) and attacks on safe spaces, which often serve as an oasis for LGBT students, we should watch this issue carefully.
In fact, the piece in The Federalist goes so far as to say:
Promoters are already discussing how to use social-emotional learning to root out students’ “bias” and “discrimination” to achieve “social justice”: “We know that giving students skills and knowledge in bias and bullying are not enough–empathy and understanding are critical to get young people to want to make change, help other people or inspire them to be an ally,” says Jinnie Spiegler, director of curriculum at the Anti-Defamation League (link original). The “ally” language is code for “agree in lock-step with the liberal social agenda on race and sexuality.” In other words, this is all about psychologically and emotionally manipulating children in order to push a certain political agenda.
Yes, wouldn't it be a disaster if our children had to show respect to one another! It seems that any time the state tries to take steps against bullying, this kind of backlash arises. We'll keep you posted as more bills are filed.