Lawmaker in Tennessee Plans for Bill Targeting Transgender StudentsBy Adam Polaski • November 11, 2015 • 2:24 pm
This week, Tennessee State Representative Bud Hulsey, (R-Kingsport) discussed his plans for introducing a bill to require transgender students to use bathrooms that are inconsistent with their gender. The bill, which Hulsey says he is still drafting, would expose transgender students to bullying and harassment in schools.
Rep. Hulsey’s bill ignores the reality that transgender men are, in fact, men; and transgender women are women. When a local reporter asked Hulsey what his bill would mean for a transgender female student forced to now use facilities with high school boys, he responded: “That’s pretty interesting and I don’t have an answer for that.”
The bill joins several others bills targeting transgender young people in schools – including a bill in Wisconsin that will have a hearing on Thursday, November 19.
Matt McTighe, Executive Director of Freedom for All Americans, condemned the bill today. He said:
“Rep. Hulsey’s bill would stigmatize transgender students in schools all across Tennessee, and it would send a message that it’s ok to bully and harass students who already feel vulnerable and even unsafe in school. We should be teaching our kids to treat every single person with dignity and respect. It’s dangerous and reprehensible for any elected official to push a bill like this that puts children at risk. – Matt McTighe, Executive Director of Freedom for All Americans
McTighe continued: “Transgender Americans are just as integral a part of our neighborhoods and our communities as anyone else, and transgender youth play just as important a role in our nation’s future as do all other young people. We should be instilling values of fairness, dignity and equality in our next generation – not seeking to divide and stigmatize them with bills that make it easier to discriminate against others.”
Nearly 90 percent of transgender students have experienced verbal harassment in school because of their gender identity, according to a 2009 report. And 75 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. All of this toxic stress adds up, meaning transgender students are at risk for having lower GPAs, higher absences from school due to fear for their safety, and may be less likely to plan for continuing their education beyond high school.