Metro Weekly

Sponsor of Tennessee “bathroom bill” pulls legislation — for this year

Susan Lynn says she was unswayed by opposition to her bill from businesses and the entertainment industry

Rep. Susan Lynn (Photo: Susan Lynn for State Representative, via Facebook).
Rep. Susan Lynn (Photo: Susan Lynn for State Representative, via Facebook).

It was the legislation that seemed to keep coming back from the political graveyard like a zombie, despite the best efforts of LGBT advocates. But the community will get a temporary respite — if only for another year — from the effects of Tennessee’s proposed “bathroom bill.”

The measure’s chief sponsor, Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) announced on Monday that she is pulling the bill in order to further study the issue, according to The Tennessean. The bill, which requires transgender students to use only those restrooms and changing facilities that best correspond to their biological sex at birth, was previously held for study by the House Education committee, before being revived earlier this month and allowing to proceed forward. Lynn’s action kills the bill for this session, but she’s vowing to renew her fight next year. 

“I have learned that our school districts are largely following what the bill says,” Lynn told reporters in a press conference inside her office. “I am still absolutely 100 percent in support of maintaining the privacy of all students. But I’m going to roll the bill over until next year so we can work on those issues.”

Despite the Volunteer State’s governor, Bill Haslam (R), expressing concern that the bill could imperil federal Title IX funding — bolstered by an opinion by Attorney General Herbert Slatery reaching the same conclusion — and a groundswell of opposition from the business community and the entertainment community to the bill, Lynn claims her decision has not been influenced by any threats of an economic backlash. She claims the bill is still needed to protect the privacy of students who may feel uncomfortable sharing facilities with transgender children.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which opposed the bill, accompanied two transgender students as they delivered petitions with more than 67,000 signatures from people opposing the bill, which includes 6,000 signatures from clergy members, to Haslam’s office.

“Today’s move helps ensure that every child in Tennessee will be treated with respect and dignity,” Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant to ensure that all Tennessee children are treated equally under the law.”

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