Discrimination Rising: Tennessee Advances Two Anti-LGBT Bills Today

April 6, 2016 • 8:27 pm

WASHINGTON – After stopping dangerous gender inspection legislation just two weeks ago, the Tennessee House Education committee reversed its decision and has advanced the bill, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

Both House Bill 2414 and its Senate counterpart, Senate Bill 2387, will require students to prove that their gender matches the gender that is on their birth certificate before being allowed to use the restroom.

“It’s disappointing that legislators have decided to ignore what educators, law enforcement officers and legal experts have said: gender inspection bills are unnecessary, costly and dangerous,” Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans said. “More importantly, gender inspection legislation further isolates transgender students and can open these students up to health problems and bullying.”

Neither measure provides any guidelines as to how students would prove that their gender matches what is documented on their birth certificate, thus schools could be forced to employ a variety of invasive tests to determine the gender of each student.

According to the Tennessee Dept. of Education, the measure threatens $1 billion in federal funding.  Schools across the state could also divert millions of dollars from the classroom to fund expensive lawsuits and administrative challenges. Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s office has also expressed concern over the state losing federal funding because of these gender inspection bills.

“Gov. Haslam has good reason to be concerned with this legislation. The fact is that gender inspection bills could cost states millions of dollars in funding due to legal and administrative challenges,” McTighe said.  “And, as we’ve seen in states like Indiana, North Carolina and now Mississippi, flagrantly anti-LGBT laws are bad for business.”

Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. president and CEO Butch Spyridon said the legislation is already tarnishing the Volunteer State’s reputation:

“When the state starts introducing legislation that affects our ability to do business, it is not helpful and needs to be rethought. Our success in the hospitality industry is predicated on a welcoming and friendly environment. We don’t need to do anything to diminish or hinder the success that is driving the state’s economy.”

The gender inspection bill is the second anti-LGBT measure to advance in the Tennessee legislature today.

Earlier this morning, the Senate voted in favor of a religious refusal bill that would allow counselors to refuse helping patients due to a “sincerely held religious belief.”

“No one should be denied important mental health care services or the right to use the restroom just because of who they are,” McTighe added.  “We call on Gov. Haslam to exert his leadership and stop these dangerous bills from ever becoming law.”

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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