Some reaction to demise of the transgender bathroom bill

News release from Family Action Council of Tennessee
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (April 18, 2016) – The following statement regarding House Bill 2414, the “bathroom bill,” can be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

“We are thankful that Rep. Susan Lynn and Sen. Mike Bell brought the bill and we appreciate their efforts in past weeks in the face of consistent opposition from the governor’s office and others, but we join the thousands of parents across the state who are profoundly disappointed that at this point in the process Rep. Lynn has decided not to proceed with a bill that would have simply protected the privacy of the children they have entrusted to our public schools.

“We are grateful for the legislators who said they would take the bill from Rep. Lynn this year and continue to push it forward; however, it was not to be. We trust that one of them will do so next year. If so, we stand ready to assist, even as we have tried to do on the legislation this year.

“In the meantime, we would encourage citizens to monitor the policies of their local school systems and demand that their schools defend the privacy of students if threatened with lawsuits, as has already happened with one local school system.”

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.


News release from Senate Democratic Caucus
NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic Leaders released the following statement on the demise of the bathroom bill:

“High school can be a difficult time for anyone, and transgender students who testified at the legislature said they were already afraid to go to any school restroom,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro said. “This bill was nothing more than a mean-spirited attack that would have written that fear and discrimination into state law. Its demise is a bright spot in a year that’s been a dark stain on Tennessee’s reputation as a hospitable, welcoming state.”

“This bill brought together national civil rights organizations, more than 60 major companies and more than 75 clergy members, in addition to the many parents and transgender students who testified against this mean-spirited legislation,” Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris said. “Jobs and education were at stake, people stood up for tolerance, and they prevailed. The message was loud and clear: Tennessee won’t be another North Carolina.”

“While I’m glad the bill is off notice, the overall push against diversity and tolerance have had a chilling effect,” state Sen. Sara Kyle said. “It’s stoked unfounded fears that put lives in danger and falsely equated being transgender with deviance and criminality. In reality, these are people who need understanding and compassion, not bathroom monitors.”

Excerpt from a Times-Free Press story:
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the state was inundated this year by “a flood of anti-LGBT bills,” something he and others attribute to political fallout over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

“We can expect similar legislation next year,” Sanders said. “In the end, a combination of the financial impact and lawmaker meetings with transgender students carried the day. But it was a tight battle all along. We’re celebrating tonight, but we’re still working on a veto of HB1840 and thinking about how we prepare for next year.”

House Bill 1840 would allow mental health therapists and counselors with “sincerely held principles” to turn away or discontinue seeing LGBT clients if patients’ goals conflict with their own. The bill has been sent to Haslam, who has not raised the same concerns he has over the restroom bill.

From WKRN-TV, Nashville
Nashville mayor Megan Barry called the bill withdrawal “a great outcome for equality in Tennessee and the future success of Nashville.”

The city had identified close to 60 million dollars in lost revenue from conventions who threatened to leave Nashville if the bathroom bill passed.

News release from Human Rights Campaign:
Today, HRC responded to the news that the sponsor of HB 2414 announced plans to pull the discriminatory bill from consideration for this year. The outrageous legislation would have forced transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

“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 marginalization 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.”

“We are pleased that the bill was withdrawn. It is time to move forward in Tennessee to end all forms of discrimination against LGBT people in schools, the workplace and beyond,” said Dr Marisa Richmond of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.

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 counselors 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.