UPDATE: This legislation failed in the Senate Education Committee for lack of a motion on March 22, 2017 and was taken off notice in House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee on March 28, 2017.
While a broad coalition of Tennesseans came together last year to defeat a bill that would have discriminated against transgender students in Tennessee, lawmakers have sadly chosen to reintroduce the same hateful legislation again.
SB 771/HB 888, sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers and Rep. Mark Pody, which begins moving on Tuesday, March 7, would ban transgender students from using the restrooms in public schools and universities that correspond with their gender identities.
Expelling transgender people from public spaces does nothing to protect anyone’s privacy interests. Instead, forcing trans students into separate spaces sends them and their peers the message that trans people should be ashamed of themselves and their bodies. Instead of protecting privacy, this bill would only serve to target transgender children for discrimination and add to the bullying, harassment, and violence they already face.
Not only are discriminatory laws targeting LGBT people like SB 771/HB 888 unlawful under Title IX and the U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions, they’re incredibly costly. North Carolina’s HB2 cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost jobs, tourist revenue, and cancelled entertainment and sports events — including the NBA all-star game, NCAA games and more. Hundreds of businesses from all across Tennessee have voiced opposition to this and other anti-LGBT measures.
In the last year, momentum against transgender discrimination has only grown. Recently, 2,000 clergy and faith leaders and 196 members of Congress filed their own amicus briefs supporting Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who is challenging Virginia’s transgender discrimination laws at the Supreme Court later this month. The chorus of voices fighting for transgender equality is stronger than ever. We have defeated this kind of unconstitutional discrimination before, and we can do it again.