Tennessee Is About To Legalize Bullying Of LGBT Kids

628x471Tennessee’s state senate has sent SB 1793/HB 1547 to Governor Haslam, who is expected to sign the bill into law, but I hope he doesn’t. Take away the legalese, the code, and the political language, and what SB 1793/HB 1547 becomes is a license to hate, and a license to bully. It’s yet another “right to discriminate” bill, but this time, it’s aimed squarely at teenagers. LGBT teenagers, to be exact.

The gist of this bill is students will have the right to, using “religious freedom” as their excuse, attack, demean, verbally abuse, and bully any other student with whose lifestyle they do not agree. I’m sorry, what I meant to write is any fundamentalist Christian student. I am sure Muslim students, Buddhist students, Wiccan students, or Atheist students will not be able to avail themselves of the protection offered in this law. I told my Atheist son about the bill, saying it was being promoted as religious freedom. His eyes narrowed, and he said “That’s not religious freedom, Mom, that’s a license to hate.” And he’s right.

Arizona just tried this, and failed miserably. Governor Brewer, faced with multiple threats of boycotts, including one from the NFL, pulled her head out the Tea Party’s ass long enough to veto their “religious freedom” bill. Conservatives went nuts. Todd Starnes wrote:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer makes Christians in her state second class citizens.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announces that homosexual rights trump religious rights.

Ben Shapiro chimed in with:

Here comes the veto from gutless Jan Brewer.

And Rich Lowry of the National Review Tweeted:

Brewer veto shows that poorly informed hysteria works.

Dan Gainor, from the conservative Media Research Center, decried the veto, offering his financial support to anyone running against Governor Brewer, and encouraged fellow conservatives to do the same.

Now we have a bill in Tennessee, unanimously passed by the state senate, that will allow fundamentalist Christian students to bully other kids. But let’s just call it what it is, shall we? It’s a bill that lets bigoted teenagers, raised by bigoted parents, attack LGBT teens. Remember, this is the same state where Stacey Campfield tried to pass the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill failed, thanks in no small part to Rep. John Ragan‘s raging homophobia, and perhaps because the language wasn’t subtle enough. Tennessee has obviously worked out those kinks, and here we are with SB 1793/HB 1547.

A friend of mine posted a link to an article about the Tennessee License to Hate bill on his Facebook wall earlier today, and among the comments expressing outrage, sorrow and frustration, came this little tidbit:

Bullying is good. Bullying is a key part in social Darwinism. Normality will survive and the oddballs will need to conform or disappear.

The person who wrote this continued in the same vein, calling one woman who questioned him “Sweetheart,” and insulting everyone who was trying to explain why the legislation Haslam is probably going to sign into law is so horrible. Another person posted a link to David Barton’s site, Wallbuilders, in support of the Tennessee bill, so I just quit and went to get my hair done.

We have religious freedom in America. Religious freedom is not what these raging, bigoted, homophobic idiots think it is. Religious freedom means I can worship whatever I want, so can you, so can we all, but we cannot shove our beliefs down someone else’s throat. We cannot walk up to a 16-year old gay kid, and tell him he’s of Satan, or he’s going to hell, or he should be stoned to death because RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. I’m a liberal Christian, and I cannot use RELIGIOUS FREEDOM to beat the living crap out of Pat Robertson. Bryan Fischer cannot scream “JESUS” while verbally assaulting a lesbian high school student. That is not religious freedom. That is bullying, it’s abuse, it’s hate wrapped in the Bible, and it’s wrong.

You know what happened Wednesday, speaking of bullying and doing the wrong thing? World Vision caved to all the fundamentalist Christians who threatened to stop sponsoring poor children all over the world, and reversed its decision to hire gay, married Christians. They lasted a whopping TWO DAYS, then all the folks who hate in the name of Christ got their wish, and World Vision apologized and went back to discriminating. For two days, affirming Christians were giddy with the knowledge that one of the largest Christian charities in the world had seen the light, and chosen to embrace married gay and lesbian Christians. We rejoiced in this baby step, because we rejoice in all the baby steps, and then BAM, rug yanked, shoe dropped.

I have written and said the following for, well, ever. There is nothing wrong with being LGBT. Nothing. There is a lot wrong with Tennessee politicians who are so consumed with hate, they would promote and pass legislation that will make school a very scary place for LGBT teens. There is a lot wrong with World Vision’s decision to continue to ignore the core message of Christ-love one another as I have loved you. Oh I know, they “love” LGBTs, they just don’t want to hire them, or allow them safe schools, or serve them in stores, or let them get married, or adopt children, or exist.

I am one of fifty online writers in America chosen to preview “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. Reading this profoundly moving book while watching Tennessee and World Vision and Franklin Graham has opened my eyes even more to the truth. We are trudging down a path whose journey will end with sorrow and pain. State after state will try, Hobby Lobby is trying, churches are preaching politics, pastors like Franklin Graham are saying the most incredibly hateful things about the LGBT community, and lost in the miasma of hate are the victims. Please stand up against the hate. Help the victims, not just here, but all over the world. In America, you can’t be executed for being LGBT, but there are countries where you can. We must stand against these laws, these people, and their horrible messages of bigotry.

We have to stand up. We must stand up.

Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.


Facebook comments

  • C

    Ummmm did I miss something? I just read the bill and see nothing condoning the abuse of gay teens written there. Please explain how you came to that conclusion, or show me where I can find where that is written.

    • Lightbringer Shaman

      You need to reread the first sentence of the “Bill Summary”. This bill gives students the right to “object” to other students running for for school offices because of their sexual orientation because of the objector’s “religious” views. If you support that, then you better be ready to support a homosexual student objecting to the non-virgin cheerleader being nominated Homecoming Queen (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

      • Catherine Mustico


  • Hussel Brand

    I’m sorry but I think you might’ve misinterpreted the bill. I read through it all the way and it in no way seemed related to the bullying of LGBT student. “(3) Ensure that a student speaker does not engage
    in speech that is obscene, vulgar, offensively lewd, indecent or that
    promotes illegal drug use;” It actually seems to contradict exactly what you are saying. Please don’t make me read through long-winded bills again to make sure that conservative nut jobs aren’t signing law allowing the abuse of students of any background.

    • Brian

      It doesn’t say “hateful” or “offensive”.

    • LadyeCatte

      Brian is correct.

      It specifically leaves out anything that bans Little Miss-Holier-Than-Thou from haranguing another gay student for being gay, “preaching” at them loudly for all to hear and titter over, stare in stony judgment or join in the ‘biblical berating’… a slavering mob of heretics. What else is bullying unless it gets physical?

      It frees Baby Biblical Bigots to harass and embarrass others without fear of punishment or expulsion.
      That is ALL these bills are created for. They’re losing the adult-forum discrimination attempts, so they’re trying it in the schools.

      These people are ugly and sick.

      • Lightbringer Shaman

        “Baby Biblical Bigots”! I am so going to steal and use that. Thank you!! <3

      • Jbh Jbh

        I didn’t think of that. But then, I don’t use religion as an assault either.

    • Lightbringer Shaman

      You need to reread the first sentence of the “Bill Summary”. This bill gives students the right to “object” to other students running for for school offices because of their sexual orientation because of the objector’s “religious” views. If you support that, then you better be ready to support a homosexual student objecting to the non-virgin cheerleader being nominated Homecoming Queen (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

  • Pipercat

    Looks to me, like the state is actively promoting religion in public schools. The amendment to the bill attempts, in my estimation, to make the bill First Amendment “friendly.” if you will. Looks like an opinion from Lys is in order.

    • Sandy Greer

      Or, if not actively promoting, at least allowing use of facilities:

      >a student may organize student prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups. Religious student groups would be given the same access to school facilities for assembling, as well as the same opportunity to advertise or announce meetings of the groups, as is given to other noncurricular groups…

      • Pipercat

        What struck me is the difference in the wording from the original bill and amendment #1. Including, but limited to, this gem from the amendment:

        This bill authorizes an LEA to disclaim school
        sponsorship of noncurricular groups and events in a manner that neither
        favors nor disfavors groups that meet to engage in prayer or religious
        speech. This amendment deletes “prayer” from the previous provision and
        replaces it with “expressions of faith”.

      • Sandy Greer

        Proselytize, anyone?

        What about snake charmers? They got any of those down in Tennessee? ;D

      • kurtsteinbach

        Yes we do, they are otherwise known as preachers, reverends, pastors, evangelicals, and the born again. LOL!

  • Kyara Peacock

    Then by that same standard the LGBTQ teens can use the “eye for an eye” and hit back harder!

    • Brian

      How? They’re definitely in the minority anywhere they go in Tennessee.

      • Mrs_oatmeal

        Maybe the problem is they are not the minority and many are in “denial”!

  • James_D

    I don’t know about all of that. There needs to be some clear definition of what that bill means. I did find it confusing to read but without knowing the exact context in which they mean all of that…I can’t say it has anything to do with LGBT kids. Some people don’t realize that LGBT people are religious too.

  • Astogner

    Passing laws like these are just a giant step toward dividing the country in the name of “religious freedom.” When these laws pass in the south the Mason-Dixon Line becomes a wall. What these laws should say is, “if you don’t believe, behave, and become like the idol -the version of a god- that I am then you don’t be long here. You can’t live here. Your family doesn’t belong here. You don’t belong in your birth family because those in it are an idol like me.” It is decisive and unChrist-like. You can disagree with kindness and respect. Permission to speak without kindness or respect is hate and wrong whether you are religious, gay, straight, bi- racial, or whatever label you like. Communication with kindness is human and humane.

  • Jbh Jbh

    “This bill specifies that a student may express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.”

    This law has me far more worried for science.

    • Holly Staggs

      It also makes it clear that in grading a teacher must use established criteria. So if a student says…”god made it”, or “god did it”, this law does not make it an acceptable answer. Students will still be expected to learn and test to the curriculum.

      • Jbh Jbh

        Where exactly does it say that? Because I can’t find any mention of it.

  • Lightbringer Shaman

    If I believed that “God” told me I could murder fundamentalist Christians, would you support it? No?!? Then maybe you shouldn’t support laws that defend fundamentalist Christians being able to discriminate or bully/beat/murder me!

  • Holly Staggs

    I want someone to tell me where the “license to bully” is in this law. You can’t. It isn’t in there. Saying it’s so, doesn’t make it true.

    • Jason Gary

      It’s sensationalism. I support gay rights and the right to marry, but this BS is just that: BS. It’s well-poisoning… they’re just bashing conservatives because it promotes solidarity and gets everyone good and angry. I think that’s called propaganda, actually…

      • LadyeCatte

        PROMOTES solidarity??? Giving holier-than-thou-trained children the RIGHT to bully other students about their sexuality is supposed to bring WHOM together? THE KKK???

    • LadyeCatte

      “Under this bill, a student may organize student prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups. Religious student groups would be given the same access to school facilities for assembling, as well as the same opportunity to advertise or announce meetings of the groups, as is given to other noncurricular groups without discrimination based on the religious content of the students’ expression.”

      It allows bible-based bigotry against others without interference from the school system.
      Now we get to see the “God For Heteros” groups put up signs inviting other students to come to yet ANOTHER meeting “To discuss why Christian faith calls for us to condemn ungodly, sinful lifestyles like homosexuality, miscegenation and other modern social ills the bible preaches against.” And right next to the gay, mixed-raced student’s poster for Student President, too. Isn’t that just…. Jesusy?

      • Holly Staggs

        What you give examples of are not bullying. Also, while the school would be expected to allow religious groups, it does say in the same extent that other groups are permitted to organize. It says nothing about the school giving up it’s right to intervene or discipline when a circumstance calls for it.
        I assume you are ok with LGBT clubs, why than do you have a problem with “hetero” clubs, or “god for heteros” clubs? It’s equal rights not special rights, and this bill is simply asking they be given….kind of like gay marriage. Now if you disagree with the bill on that premise, that is your business, but people should stick to the facts.

      • LadyeCatte

        When the LGBT kids have their own clubs, their goal is NOT to bash heteros. You don’t SEE them holding signs saying what evil people heteros are. You don’t HEAR them calling heteros all sorts of degrading, horrible names. And I’ve yet to hear of an LGBT group standing outside a hetero’s funeral holding up hateful signs or calling for a petition to remove a homecoming royal because of their heterosexuality.

        If any such “god for heteros” group simply celebrated heterosexuality and DIDN’T support anti-not-them legislation, campaign against someone simply because they’re gay and go around preaching to any who would listen about the “evils” of the gay lifestyle, i wouldn’t have a problem with it.
        But — and let’s not have a lie here– we both know there’s only ONE reason for any such ‘hetero’ club… and I’ve just outlined it. THOSE ARE THE FACTS.

      • lance

        Religion should no be in public schools period. There is such a thing as seperation of church and state and public schools are part of state not church. If parents want their kids to learn about god and the bible send them to church and/or private christian based schools. This matter isn’t in my opinion about the clubs etc its about religious freedom and guess what you already have that in the constitution. And also freedom from religion. Now think about it what does freedom from religion mean. It means that people have the right to be free from religion. People of all ages should not have religion shoved down their throats especially in public schools. So again if people want their kids to learn about religion send them to church. End of rant.

  • Keith Johnson

    In many parts of our troubled world people cry, “Revolution! Revolution!”. In Tennessee they cry “Evolution! Evolution! We want our thumbs!” Tennessee: Darwin’s waiting room.

  • Fabj

    Christianity is failing on every level. Why are we still even discussing it? Live your lives. YOUR lives. Stop this fake worship. It only turns you into people like this. Make the move, you’ll feel better.

  • Chad Michael

    The big problem I see here are people calling themselves “Christians”…and having differing interpretations of what is right/wrong in the Bible, and then taking the side (both pro/con homosexuality and these bills) and what is deemed acceptable for their stance. The author claims there is “absolutely nothing” wrong with homosexuality, but the Bible clearly states otherwise. The hardcore fundamentalists take it to the extreme to be hateful to homosexuals in the name of Jesus. Our culture at this point has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate, and that’s something both sides (to the extreme) fail to see here.