FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2022
CONTACT: Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee today sent a letter to Governor Bill Lee urging him to veto SB 2290/HB 2670, which would chill discussions about race, gender, and LGBTQ issues in Tennessee’s public colleges and universities.
“Tennessee’s colleges and universities should be giving students the tools they need to be good community members and leaders. The more Tennessee students learn about our painful history and the lessons it can teach us, the better prepared they will be to tackle inequities and injustices in our communities,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director. “On behalf of tomorrow’s leaders, we call on Governor Lee to veto this shortsighted, overreaching educational gag order.”
ACLU-TN’s letter explains that “by applying vague restrictions to overbroad ‘concepts,’ this legislation will chill the expression of students and faculty alike.” The concepts, the letter continues, “are so vague they give universities and teachers almost no way of knowing what concepts and ideas are prohibited.” At the same time, the bill allows individuals to sue professors or institutions based on these vague provisions, creating incentives for faculty to limit discussions of race, gender or LGBTQ issues in the classroom. The bill could also bar universities from requiring implicit bias training for staff or restrict universities from awarding a range of grants, stipends, and fellowships.
ACLU-TN’s letter urges the governor to “reject this bill’s regressive approach to higher education and promote the academic freedom of students and faculty” by vetoing SB 2290/HB 2670.
A copy of ACLU-TN’s letter to Governor Lee can be found at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/ACLU_TN_Veto_Letter_Final_SB2290.pdf