School bathroom bill clears first committee

A House education subcommittee on Tuesday approved a controversial bill aimed at requiring students to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth, reports The Tennessean.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Old Hickory, and Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, would “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 bill was debated for nearly an hour, in front of a room filled with both proponents and opponents of the measure (HB2414).

Those speaking against the bill said it would be harmful to transgender students and could potentially put the state at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in Title IX funding, a point that has recently been reiterated by Gov. Bill Haslam.

…Although the bill’s fiscal note found no significant impact on state and local government, the state Department of Education put a fiscal flag on the legislation because of the Title IX concerns.

…”Right now we’re handing that on a local basis, and I think they’re dealing it with on an incident-by-incident situation,” Haslam told reporters last week. “I actually trust our teachers and local school boards to figure out how to make those accommodations in those situations.”

Speaking in favor of the bill were Matt Sharp, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, and Kevin Carr, whose daughter attends McGavock High School.

Sharp argued the issue basically comes down to Constitutional rights, saying, “Opening boys and girls restrooms and locker rooms to members of the opposite sex would directly violate this privacy right.”