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Legislative Assault on Trans Students in TN Advances Despite National Outcry on Similar Law in NC

by Stephen Peters April 06, 2016

Today, HRC blasted a vote of 8 to 4 by the Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Committee advancing HB 2414 – an outrageous bill targeting transgender students in public schools and universities. The measure, which now moves to the House Finance Committee, seeks to force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

The committee voted to advance the discriminatory legislation despite calls from major corporations and LGBT advocates to abandon the discriminatory bill. Making clear that the proposal is both wrong and bad for business, HRC released an open letter earlier today from executives at Dow Chemical, HPE, Choice Hotels, and Alcoa urging lawmakers to abandon HB 2414 and its Senate companion bill, SB 2387. Viacom, the parent company of Country Music Television, also issued a statement yesterday urging lawmakers to reject the legislation.

“Tennessee lawmakers must not be paying attention to North Carolina and the national backlash caused by a similar legislative attack on transgender people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “In addition to undermining Tennessee’s economy, this vicious and appalling measure would needlessly jeopardize millions in federal funding for Tennessee’s schools and universities in an attempt to force local administrators and teachers to discriminate against transgender students – young people who already face high rates of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The Tennessee Senate must resoundingly reject this outrageous proposal.”

Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project; Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; Tennessee ACLU; and the Human Rights Campaign have been calling on lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory legislation that would further compound the marginalization and harassment transgender students already face. Seven major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have condemned this type of discriminatory legislation – including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association. Expressing strong opposition, the organizations made clear that the proposals “would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.”

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, includes a similar appalling attack on transgender students. Because of Governor McCrory’s failed leadership, North Carolina is now facing economic falloutinflicted on the state by anti-equality activists. Over 130 major business leaders have signed onto a letter urging North Carolina to repeal that discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session.

HB 2414 and SB 2387 would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has echoed concerns that the discriminatory measure would compromise the state’s three billion dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. His spokesperson also said the governor “trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations” for transgender students. The legislation offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it would force 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 bills put federal funding at risk here.

According to the Williams Institute, there are over 10,000 transgender youth in Tennessee between the ages of 13 and 19.

Stephen Peters
Stephen Peters


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