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Legislature Attempts To Protect Children, Family Values


This information comes from the office of State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, and parts of Marshall, Maury and Williamson counties in the State Senate.

Some legislation to protect children and family values passed this session follows..

Protecting Children From Social Media Act - A new law restores parental authority online by requiring social media companies to verify ages of account holders and obtain parental consent for minors to create a social media account.

It gives parents the ability to supervise and restrict their child’s online interactions, and the ability to revoke consent if necessary. Restrictions include privacy settings, daily time restrictions and implemented breaks from the platform.

Social media can be extremely harmful for children, teens and young adults, especially if unsupervised.

This legislation puts parents back in the driver’s seat of their children’s social media usage. It lays out clear steps social media companies must take to verify the ages of users to protect Tennessee children and empower parents.

Protect Tennessee Minors Act - Under a law passed this year, online media companies and operators will be required to verify users’ ages to access sites with explicit adult content.

The Protect Tennessee Minors Act requires companies to match a photograph of an active user to a photograph on a valid form of ID.

Early access to pornography can damage a child’s development and impact their relationships and emotional health well into adulthood.

In the digital age, it is too easy for minors to access pornography online. A national survey by Common Sense Media cited 73 percent of teen respondents aged 13-17 had watched pornography online. Fifty-four percent reported first watching pornography online before age 13.

The Family Rights And Responsibilities Act - Lawmakers approved legislation that explicitly outlines 12 fundamental rights of parents.

These rights include the responsibilities to make education, healthcare, moral and religious decisions for their child.

The law protects children from indoctrination by ideologies contrary to values taught by their parents.

This legislation honors the fundamental role moms and dads play in the lives of their children as lead decision-makers and protectors.

It shields families from government overreach by ensuring a parent’s inherent right to instill personal values, beliefs and cultural practices is preserved.

Notifying Parents Of Gender Identity Changes - To protect parental rights and continue efforts to address gender identities of children in school, legislation passed ensures parents are made aware if their child asks for accommodations in school to affirm their gender identity.

This builds on last year's efforts as the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 466 which protects teachers from being disciplined, fired or held civilly liable when asked to use pronouns not consistent with a student’s biological gender.

Legislation Provides More Protections For Parental Rights In Medical Decisions - Legislation to prioritize parental rights and further protect Tennessee children from prohibited medical procedures passed the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 2782 seeks to stop anyone from knowingly taking a minor across state lines without parental consent for the minor to receive a medical procedure prohibited in Tennessee.

Under the legislation, any adult who recruits, harbors or transports a minor for a restricted medical procedure could be held civilly liable by the child’s parent or legal guardian under the proposed legislation.

Family Life Curriculum Lawmakers passed a law that ensures topics related to sexual activity are prohibited from being taught to students in kindergarten through fifth grade as part of a family life curriculum.

Previous Tennessee K-5 family life curriculum standards do not include information about sexual activity.

This is a proactive law to prevent including that information in the curriculum.

Improvements To Age Appropriate Materials Act - This law provides more clarity to the Age Appropriate Materials Act of 2022. It adds that obscene materials must be kept from public school libraries. Obscene materials include content that is sexually explicit or excessively violent.

The law adds to the existing Age Appropriate Materials Act which was passed in 2022.

Increasing protections from bullying and cyberbullying - The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation this year that classifies bullying and cyberbullying as a form of harassment. This new law enables law enforcement officers to make a report of these incidents and, in the case of a minor, notify the parent or legal guardian. The legislation helps protect students from bullying and cyberbullying and the escalation that can come from this type of harassment.

Protecting Religious Beliefs Of Marriage Officiants - A law passed out of the General Assembly clarifies that any person has the option to object to solemnizing marriages based on personal or religious beliefs.

The law bolsters Tennessee’s fundamental principle that the government cannot compel someone to act against their beliefs.

The law applies for ordained ministers, justices of the peace, or other authorized officiants.

Prohibiting Gender Transition Treatment For imates - The General Assembly passed legislation to prohibit the Department of Corrections from administering hormone replacement therapy or providing sex reassignment surgery for inmates with gender dysphoria.

The new law ensures no state funds go towards gender transition treatments.

This is one of the latest moves by lawmakers to push back against pervasive gender ideologies.

Last year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which prohibits gender transition surgeries and hormones from being administered to minors in Tennessee.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, or call 615-741-3100, or toll free at 1-800-449-8366, extension 13100, or fax 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, or call 931-796-2018, or call his cell phone at 931-212-8823, or e-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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