“Tennessee lawmakers were wise to learn from the mistakes of North Carolina and Mississippi and halt this cruel legislation that would have only worsened the marginalisation and harassment transgender students already face on a daily basis,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Over the last weeks and months, a growing chorus of civil rights leaders, child welfare advocates, businesses, and fair-minded people spoke out and declared that transgender youth deserve our support, care and respect. We urge Tennessee lawmakers to reject any similar future proposals that would subject these youth to discrimination and fear.”
“The LGBT community and our allies never gave up in the fight against HB 2414 and today our efforts were rewarded,” said the Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders. “We can build a culture of inclusion and acceptance in Tennessee.”
Tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars, most recently including Billy Ray Cyrus; more than 60 CEOs and major business leaders; and HRC in partnership with local LGBT equality advocates at the Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, have been repeatedly calling on lawmakers to abandon the legislation.
While South Dakota’s Republican Governor vetoed a similar bill, North Carolina’s Governor McCrory signed into law a measure that, among other discriminatory provisions, included a similar appalling attack on transgender students. Because of Governor McCrory’s failed leadership, North Carolina is now facing terrible and accelerating economic fallout. Over 160 major business leaders have signed onto a letter urging North Carolina to repeal that discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session.
HB 2414, and its Senate companion SB 2387, would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX. Tennessee Attorney General Slatery recently warned that the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding if lawmakers moved forward with legislation restricting transgender students’ access to facilities consistent with their gender identity. The legislation offered costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it would have forced schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how these types of bills put federal funding at risk here.
Of more than 20 anti-LGBT bills introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly this year, only one bill passed through the House and Senate. SB 1556, which would allow counsellors and therapists to refuse services based on religious belief, is currently awaiting action from Governor Haslam.
According to the Williams Institute, there are more than 10,000 transgender youth in Tennessee between the ages of 13 and 19.