Metro Weekly

Cosponsor of Tennessee’s “bathroom bill” accused of sexual harassment

Attorney general's investigation deemed the lawmaker could pose a risk to "unsuspecting women"

Rep. Jeremy Durham (Photo: Jeremy Durham for State Representative, via Facebook).
Rep. Jeremy Durham (Photo: Jeremy Durham for State Representative, via Facebook).

One of the cosponsors of a Tennessee anti-transgender “bathroom bill” poses a risk to “unsuspecting women.”

That’s according to the state’s attorney general, CBS News reports. Herbert Slatery (R) has been investigating allegations that Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) made sexual comments or had inappropriate physical contact with women working at the Capitol.

Slatery recommended that Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) take action to avoid a hostile work environment, writing in a memo to the Speaker: “Representative Durham’s alleged behavior may post a continuing risk to unsuspecting women who are employed by or interact with the Legislature.”

Harwell announced last week that she was moving Durham’s office across the street from the House chamber, due to the controversy over his alleged conduct with women.

Durham has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Bill Harbison called it “surprising and unfair” to release the memo without allowing his client to know what the focus of the investigation was.

LGBT media have seized upon the allegations against Durham, particularly after the House revived the “bathroom bill,” which would require transgender students to use only restrooms or changing facilities designated for their biological sex at birth. 

Ironically, one of the biggest talking points that supporters of the bill have seized upon is the idea that transgender people somehow pose a threat to women and girls in public restrooms. Social conservatives, not only in Tennessee but in other states with anti-transgender laws, say that the bill is needed to ensure the privacy and safety of these females. But there is no evidence that any such connection or correlation between pro-transgender laws and increased sexual assault exists. As a result, opponents of the bill have tried to point out the hypocrisy of that talking point in light of the allegations against Durham.

GOP leaders, including Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as Harwell, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, and the state Party Chairman Ryan Haynes, have called for Durham to resign from his position. So far, he has refused to do so. CBS News reports that he is currently on an expected two-week hiatus to seek counseling.

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