Human Rights Campaign Condemns Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for Enacting Needless Law to Perpetuate Discrimination Against Transgender Students

Apr 25, 22
Human Rights Campaign Condemns Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for Enacting Needless Law to Perpetuate Discrimination Against Transgender Students

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Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Governor Bill Lee’s signature of legislation, H.B. 1895 / S.B. 1861, that would remove funding from any school district that allows transgender students to play school sports consistent with their gender identity. This is a gratuitous effort to double down on discrimination against transgender students. It is discriminatory, unfair, and unnecessary – not to mention contrary to the requirements of federal civil rights law and the United States Constitution.

This bill is a continuation of Tennessee’s “leadership” in legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people over the last several years, and comes as data from the Trevor Project shows that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. The nation’s leading child health and welfare groupsrepresenting more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender youth in particular.

“Transgender people, and especially transgender youth, are under attack like never before, and Governor Lee is among those leading the charge. Over the past three years, the Tennessee legislature has considered more than sixty anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation, passing seven into law - including the first two “bathroom bills'' passed since North Carolina’s infamous HB2. Undeterred by the lawsuits Tennessee is facing, undeterred by the possibility of federal administrative enforcement action, undeterred by the harm that this legislation does to Tennessee children, Bill Lee continues to support and sign bill after discriminatory bill - making Tennessee among the most anti-LGBTQ states in the country.”

Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director

"It is hard to imagine a worse combination--cutting school funds for not discriminating. To say that trans participation in school sports is a reason to threaten school districts is deeply stigmatizing and built on misinformation. It is past time for Tennessee to pursue policies that create a sense of belonging for trans and nonbinary students in our schools."

Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project and Tennessee Equality Project Foundation Executive Director

In the last three years, anti-LGBTQ groups and politicians have singled out transgender kids to deny them access to gender-affirming medical treatment, prevent them from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity, and deny access to bathrooms. 2020 set a record number for anti-transgender bills filed with 79 bills, largely focused on attacking transgender youth; 2021 surpassed that record with 147 such bills filed in 34 states. 2022 is on track to surpass that record yet again. For transgender youth – who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence – to bear the weight of these attacks year after year, this legislation takes a toll. Politicians are culpable for the harmsthey inflict by continuing to consider bills that target transgender youth.

Already, more than 200 major U.S. corporations have joined together to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country, including companies like Amazon, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike, and PayPal. Four of the largest U.S. food companiesalso condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

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