Tennessee has passed a discriminatory bill denying transgender students access to bathroom and locker facilities that align with their gender identity.

HB 1233 (SB 1367) further complicates issues as the Senate Bill would allow the school to involve lawsuits if transgender students do not comply with in-house regulations and use bathrooms that accommodate the sex at both. As an alternative, schools can offer single-occupancy facilities for trans and gender non-conforming students.

Republican Rep. Jason Zachary has argued the bill has been put in place to offer “protection” for everyone.

“This bill addresses every child. It just doesn’t address a specific child or singles anyone out. It literally addresses the protection and wellbeing of every child,” he said.

HB 1233 is part of a collective of discriminatory bills being driven through Tennessee’s legislative system. Many of these proposed or passed bills enforce inequalities such as targeting transgender youth and access to bathrooms and preventing trans children from competition in state sports.

Tennessee House recently passed HB 1182 (SB 1224) which allows access to bathroom facilities to depend on biological sex. The bill states it will allow “a member of either biological sex to use any public restroom within the building or facility.”

HB 800 (SB 1216) is an anti-LGBTQ+ education bill that restricts schools from offering lessons or materials that may “promote” awareness around LGBTQ+ issues.

The Senate Bill states: “The state board is prohibited from approving for local adoption or granting a waiver for, and LEAs and public charter schools are prohibited from locally adopting or using in the public schools of this state, textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.”

Melodía Gutiérrez, Human Rights Campaign Associate Regional Campaign Director has called Tennessee’s latest Senate Bill “outdated”.

“Resorting to outdated and baseless anti-equality arguments, the Tennessee legislature continues to relentlessly discriminate against and attempt to undermine the rights of LGBTQ and specifically transgender Tennesseans, Gutiérrez said.

“Empowering those who wish to discriminate against transgender students and placing an undue burden on schools to accommodate these hurtful requests will lead to nothing but further stigmatization and degrading experiences for trans kids – all of whom deserve to feel comfortable and accepted at school just like every other student. Instead of focusing on addressing the serious challenges that affect the everyday lives of Tennesseans including healthcare, infrastructure, and a pandemic that requires decisive action from its state leaders, the legislature is focused on targeting transgender people and advancing their ‘Slate of Hate.”