Tennessee advances anti-transgender bathroom bill

Transgender friendly, gender neutral bathroom sign

Representatives in the Tennessee House voted on Tuesday (April 30) to pass a bill which could stop transgender students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The anti-transgender bill would also require the state attorney general to defend the policy in court. Its Senate counterpart is due on the floor on Wednesday (May 1).

Also on Tuesday, the Tennessee Senate also took action on two other anti-LGBT+ bills which together have become known as the “Slate of Hate.”

The ‘Slate of Hate’ includes two anti-transgender bills

Lawmakers voted to defer another bill which would allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex parents on moral grounds. The bill is now not expected to be heard until next year.

The Senate also voted to pass a bill which seeks to expand the state’s indecent exposure laws. The bill caused controversy when an early draft was published that included articles that targeted transgender people.

Tennessee advances anti-transgender bathroom bill

A number of anti-LGBT+ laws have been dubbed the “Slate of Hate” in Tennessee (Sara D. Davis/Getty)

Other bills that round out the “Slate of Hate” include a bill that would allow businesses in Tennessee to discriminate against LGBT+ people and the Tennessee Marriage Defense Act, which has been branded an attack on equal marriage by LGBT+ activists.

Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the transgender bathroom bill puts the state on “a dangerous path that threatens the basic dignity of transgender students.”

“There is still time for our state’s leaders to choose a wiser, welcoming approach and we call on them to do so,” he added.

The “Slate of Hate” has been widely condemned by LGBT+ activists across the US. Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said: “It is shameful to watch elected leaders ignore the human impact and economic consequences of discrimination.

“Like all Americans, the vast majority of Tennesseans want to see their LGBTQ neighbors treated with dignity and respect.

“We urge the Senate to reject legislation that targets transgender young people.”

“There is still time for our state’s leaders to choose a wiser, welcoming approach and we call on them to do so.”

– Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project

Joining LGBT+ activists, more than 100 businesses have signed an open letter condemning the laws, including Amazon, Dell, Nissan, and Warner Music Group.

Joe Woolley of the Nashville LGBT Chamber—who organised the open letter—said that the state of Tennessee will no longer be a good place to do business if bills that make up the “Slate of Hate” are passed into law.

“It is imperative that our legislature reject these discriminatory bills and ensure that Tennessee remains open for business to all,” he said.

Taylor Swift donated $113,000 to help fund opposition to Tennessee’s anti-LGBT+ laws

The laws have also been heavily criticised by Taylor Swift. Last month, she donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project along with a handwritten note to the group’s executive director, Chris Sanders.

“Dear Chris, I’m writing you to say that I’m so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organising the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the ‘Slate of Hate’ in our legislature,” Swift wrote.

“Please convey my heartfelt thanks to them and accept this donation to support the work you and those leaders are doing. I’m so grateful that they’re giving all people a place to worship. Sincerely, Taylor Swift.”