Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee signed a bill that restricts letting transgender students or employees use a bathroom or locker room that does not represent their gender at birth. If violated, a student, parent, or employee can sue on behalf of psychological, emotional, and physical harm they endured. They are also permitted to take legal action if required to sleep in the same area as a member of the opposite sex at birth, minus family members.
Tennessee is the first state to sign a bill restricting bathroom use by transgender people in about five years. They follow other GOP-led states such as Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas.
The bill proposes that public schools must try to offer a bathroom that is single occupancy if a student or employee would like more privacy than the multi-use bathroom designated for their sex at birth. “This bill provides equal access to every student. It’s a reasonable approach to the challenge” Gov. Lee told reporters.
The legislation will begin July 1st, however the American Civil Liberties of Union expect that this law will be challenged in court. Tennessee ACLU executive director, Hedy Weinberg stated “Transgender students should be treated with respect and dignity, just like everyone else. Governor Lee’s decision to sign this bill sends the opposite message – that students should be able to discriminate against a group of their classmates by avoiding sharing public spaces with them, and sue their schools if they are prevented from doing so.”
This bill follows another proposal in Tennessee that prohibits transgender student-athletes from competing in girls’ public middle school and high school sports. Governor Lee also signed a proposal that requires school districts to notify parents 30 days in advance before beginning instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity and will allow their child to opt-out.