NASHVILLE (WATE) – A controversial piece of legislation that would require transgender students in Tennessee public schools and public institutions of higher education to use restrooms and locker rooms assigned to their birth gender was filed.
Representative Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) and Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) are sponsoring the legislation. HB888 and SB771 state public schools “shall require that a student use student restroom and locker room facilities that are assigned for use by persons of the same sex as the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.”
The current versions of the bill passed on first consideration in the Senate and will be introduced in the house Thursday.
A similar bill was filed last year by Representative Susan Lynn, but she pulled the measure. Lynn said the bill would have protected students from unwanted harassment and sexual assault. The U.S. Justice Department and others contend the threat of sexual predators posing as transgender persons to enter a bathroom is practically nonexistent.
“We know as soon as this bill passes, we’re going to be sued and so when it passes, we really want to have the strongest legislation possible so that we can defend ourselves in a lawsuit,” said Rep. Lynn after she withdrew the bill.
North Carolina lawmakers passed a similar law last year. The law was blasted by gay-rights groups and resulted in conventions, jobs and sporting events like the NBA All-Star Game shunning North Carolina. Corporate critics of the law included Deutsche Bank and Paypal, which both backed out of projects that would have brought hundreds of jobs to the state.
Almost 200 Tennessee businesses have also aligned against anti-LGT bills, including HCA, FedEx, Jack Daniels and Country Music Television.