- The Magazine
A Tennessee bill that would force the state attorney general to defend schools that discriminate against transgender students has passed committee.
HB 2620 was voted through on Thursday and, should it become law, would require the AG to defend local school districts whose policies prevent transgender students and staff members from using their bathroom of choice.
Should a district be sued, the state would have to pay for any court fees and the district must be represented by the attorney general.
Speaking in a civil justice subcommittee meeting, state Rep. Andy Holt (R) said he sponsored the bill to protect students, and that it will allow school boards to make their own decisions on bathroom policies.
“In Williamson County, that may be three bathrooms,” he said. “That may be the policy that the school board says, now that’s the best idea.”
The bill has garnered criticism for being discriminatory against transgender and gender nonconforming youth. Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said that at its core HB 2620 will encourage bullying of and violence against vulnerable children and called for the bill to be abandoned.
“Members of the House should reject this bill and send a clear message to their constituents that Tennessee lawmakers are not in the business of emboldening discrimination and writing people’s prejudices about the transgender community into law,” Ellis said.
According to News Channel 5, a transgender Williamson County student has filed a challenge against the bill, saying that “all bathrooms should be private regardless of gender.”
A similar bill was filed in January, but it was withdrawn before it even had the chance to appear in a subcommittee hearing. Another bill met the same fate last year after it failed to receive a motion in a Senate committee last week.
Tennessee is not the only state that has entered into the bathroom bill debate. In February, a transgender student filed a discrimination lawsuit against his Indiana school for not letting him use the bathroom that matched his gender identity.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!