Tennessee Passes Bill Targeting Transgender People

On Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law a bill to require government facilities and businesses to post signage letting the public know if they allow transgender people to use bathrooms associated with their gender identity. The law is the first of its kind, and will go into effect on July 1.

A few days prior, Governor Lee signed a bill that puts public schools and school districts at legal risk if they allow transgender students and employees to use locker rooms and bathrooms that do not reflect their sex and birth.

Earlier this year, Governor Lee passed a proposal to keep transgender student athletes from playing sports on teams that affirm their gender identities. Another law he signed this year requires school districts to alert parents 30 days before students are taught about gender identity or sexual orientation and allows parents to opt their student out of the lesson. 

Tennessee is one of many states passing bills targeting transgender people, particualrly transgender youth. Statehouses across the country have introduced dozens of bills banning access to sports and healthcare for trans young people. 

The required signage would read: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.” However, the law does not mandate specific penalties or fines to ensure the signs are posted, so enforcement may not be straightforward.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has said the legislation is “impermissible compelled speech, in violation of the First Amendment, and raises substantial due process and equal protection concerns.”

Sources: NBC News 5/20/21; Tennessean 5/20/21; Twitter 5/21/21; Twitter 11/12/20

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