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Matthew Shepard's Father Dennis Speaks Out Against Tennessee's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill In Nashville (VIDEO)

First Posted: 01/26/2012 3:24 pm Updated: 01/26/2012 8:32 pm

The father of slain gay student Matthew Shepard has joined the chorus of dissenting voices urging Tennessee voters to resist proposed anti-LGBT legislation including the controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill.

As The Tennessean is reporting, Dennis Shepard spoke at length at a Nashville hate crime conference alongside wife Judy in an effort to discourage lawmakers from pressing ahead with bills that curb discussions about homosexuality in schools, restrict transgender people from using public facilities and amend anti-bullying laws to protect controversial statements about homosexuality.

"These bills disturb me," Shepard is quoted by The Republic as saying. "Just the idea that you're talking about it bothers me. They are American citizens. Let them have their peace and their privacy, and become the dull, boring people that we want them to be."

Shepard also referenced his son, who was just 21 years old when he was attacked, robbed and beaten into a coma by two men who are believed to have targeted him for his sexual orientation in 1998. "I see the potential that he had to help others," Shepard noted, according to News Channel 5. "I didn't look at him as being my gay son. He was my son."

Sadly, two Tennessee-based teens, Jacob Rogers and Philip Parker, have committed suicide after allegedly being bullied for being gay just as support for the "Don't Say Gay" bill and other "anti-LGBT" legislative proposals has surged within the state.

Need help? Visit The Trevor Project's website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.gov.

You can also visit Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) website for more resources.

Take a look at other recent bullying cases and related news below:

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  • Eric James Borges

    Just one month after filming an "It Gets Better" video in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, California-based gay filmmaker Eric James Borges, 19, who worked as an intern with The Trevor Project and as a supplemental instructor at the College of the Sequoias, took his own life.

  • Jacob Rogers

    Jacob Rogers had been bullied at Cheatham County Central High School for the past four years, but at the start of his senior year, it had become so bad he dropped out of school before taking his own life. "He started coming home his senior year saying 'I don't want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer,'" friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.

  • Jeffrey Fehr

    Eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Fehr, who was known as a skilled athlete and previously served as the first male captain of his high school's cheerleading squad, hanged himself on New Year's Day in the front entrance of his family's Granite Bay home after enduring what his parents describe as a lifetime of anti-gay bullying.

  • Tyler Clementi

    The disturbing rash of LGBT teen suicides began receiving attention last fall. Among those who took their own life was Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York after his roommate allegedly filmed him having sex with another man.

  • Seth Walsh

    Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old California teen, hung himself in September 2010 after reportedly being bullied because he was gay.

  • Raymond S. Chase

    Gay Rhode Island-based student Raymond S. Chase, 19, became the fifth in 2010's disturbing spate of teen suicides last fall.

  • Obama's Anti-Bullying Video

    In October 2010, President Obama released a video in support of LGBT youth who were struggling with being bullied.

  • Pastor's Confession

    In November 2010, Jim Swilley, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch, revealed to his congregation that he is gay. The 52-year-old father of four said the recent spate of teen suicides, particularly that of Clementi, prompted him to change his mind. "For some reason his situation was kind of the tipping point with me," Swilley told CNN's Don Lemon this weekend.

  • Daniel Radcliffe Honored

    In June, "Harry Potter" actor Daniel Radcliffe was honored with the Trevor Project's "Hero" Award for his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/26/daniel-radcliffe-speaks-o_n_478960.html" target="_hplink">ongoing suicide prevention efforts</a> for LGBT youth.

  • Jamey Rodemeyer

    In September, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy from Williamsville, N.Y., took his life Sunday after what his parents claim was years of bullying because of struggles with his sexuality, months after posting this "It Gets Better" clip on YouTube.

  • Lady Gaga's Dedication

    After vowing to stop bullying and make it illegal, Lady Gaga -- a longtime advocate for LGBT causes -- dedicated a performance to Rodemeyer at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. "I wrote this record about how your identity is really all you've got when you're in school," Gaga told the crowd. "So tonight, Jamey, I know you're up there looking at us, and you're not a victim. You're a lesson to all of us."

  • Bachmann Speaks Out

    Days after being faced with a petition that urged her to publicly address gay bullying in her district, Rep. Michele Bachmann noted, "That's not a federal issue," according to CBS News. Previously, Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, a gay teen in the Anoka-Hennepin school district who committed suicide after having been bullied in area schools, delivered petitions to Bachmann's office asking her for support.

  • Jamie Hubley

    Jamie Hubley, a gay 15-year-old from Ottawa, Canada, committed suicide Oct. 14. In this clip, the teen performs Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me."

  • Hubley Tribute Video

    Friends created a poignant tribute video to Hubley, the Canadian 10th grader who committed suicide on Friday.

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Filed by Curtis M. Wong  |