A bill that would prohibit elementary and middle school teachers from discussing any form of sexuality that is not considered natural reproduction with students was reintroduced in the Tennessee state Senate.
SB 234, titled the "Classroom Protection Act" [PDF] but nicknamed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, reads "The general assembly recognizes that certain subjects are particularly sensitive and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the home... any such classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction shall be classified as inappropriate for the intended student audience and, therefore, shall be prohibited." SB 234 specifically targets kindergarten through eighth grade classes.
The new 2013 "Don't Say Gay" bill includes a new clause that could require teachers and school staff to inform parents if their child identifies as or is assumed to be LGBTQ. Listed as an exception from prohibited discussion on sexuality is "counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person.. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred." No further guidelines of what behavior constitutes a reason for is given, which would enable teachers to determine these criteria themselves.
The original "Don't Say Gay" bill advanced out of the Tennessee state Senate's Education Committee on a 6 to 3 party line vote in 2011, but died on the Senate floor without being brought to a vote in 2012. In Tennessee, it is already illegal to teach sex education that is outside of the State Board of Education's "family life curriculum," which excludes any reference to homosexuality.
Media Resources: ThinkProgress 1/30/2013; Senate Bill 234 1/30/2013; Feminist Newswire 4/26/2011
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .