Tennessee Advances Anti-LGBTQ Legislation

April 30, 2019 • 8:18 pm

Despite massive opposition from major companies like Amazon, Postmates, and Bridgestone, the Tennessee House today approved harmful legislation that targets transgender young people in the state.

HB 1274 would encourage school districts to pass anti-transgender restroom policies that prohibit transgender students from using the facilities that correspond with their gender identity, and would require the Attorney General to provide legal defense for those discriminatory school districts at taxpayers’ expense. SB 1499, its Senate companion, is expected on the Senate floor tomorrow morning.

“Tennessee lawmakers are playing politics with LGBTQ people’s lives by voting in favor of discrimination,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “It is shameful to watch elected leaders ignore the human impact and economic consequences of discrimination. Like all Americans, the vast majority of Tennesseans want to see their LGBTQ neighbors treated with dignity and respect. We urge the Senate to reject legislation that targets transgender young people.”

The Tennessee Senate took action on two additional anti-LGBTQ bills:

  • The Senate deferred passage of SB 1304 until next year’s legislative session. SB 1304 would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBTQ people, single parents, and people of minority faiths, among others. Legislation that creates a license to discriminate in child welfare services has skyrocketed in recent years – similar laws are on the books in 9 states across the country.
  • HB 1151 passed by a vote of 21-5. HB 1151 expands Tennessee’s existing law banning indecent exposure to include restrooms and locker rooms and could encourage harassment of transgender people in public spaces.

Major corporations in Tennessee warned lawmakers that discriminatory laws would risk tourism revenue, talent recruitment, and business investment in the state. Over 100 business leaders have signed an open letter organized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Freedom for All Americans opposing the slate of anti-LGBTQ bills, including AllianceBernstein, Amazon, Bridgestone Americas, Dell Technologies, Genesco, Lyft, Nashville Predators, Nissan, Postmates, Salesforce, Tennessee Titans, and Warner Music Group.

“Tennessee is a great place to do business, and we want to keep it that way. Lawmakers should learn from what happened in North Carolina, where anti-transgender legislation cost the state $2 billion in lost revenue. Businesses in Tennessee have serious concerns about their ability to continue investing in Tennessee’s economy if any anti-LGBTQ bills become law,” said Joe Woolley, CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber. “It is imperative that our legislature reject these discriminatory bills and ensure that Tennessee remains open for business to all.”

“House passage of HB1274 puts Tennessee on a dangerous path that threatens the basic dignity of transgender students and the hospitality that has been a foundation of our state’s economic growth,” said Chris Sanders, Executive Director of Tennessee Equality Project. “There is still time for our state’s leaders to choose a wiser, welcoming approach and we call on them to do so.”


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