Tennessee could mandate bathroom signs about transgender use

Gender Protections_198867

FILE- In this Aug. 23, 2007, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to a gender-neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. Nearly all of the nation’s 20 largest cities, including New York City, have local or state nondiscrimination laws that allow transgender people to use whatever bathroom they identify with, though […]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that requires businesses or government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multi-person bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity.

The Republican-dominated Legislature finished work on the bill with the Senate’s passage Thursday, sending GOP Gov. Bill Lee another bill that LGBTQ advocates have decried as targeting the already-marginalized transgender community this legislative session.

According to the bill, the required sign outside the bathroom or other facility would say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

The governor has already signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls public high school or middle school sports.

Lawmakers have also approved another bill about bathrooms, which opens up schools and districts to lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use facilities marked for the sex opposite of what’s on their birth certificate.

Lee has painted that bill in a positive light, claiming it provides “equality in bathrooms.” Schools would have to make a single-person or employee bathroom available to students or employees who are not comfortable using a restroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. But they could not allow them to use the facilities of their gender identity.

Lee said last week that he hadn’t read the bill yet, but said that “any bill that provides equal access for all kids, I’ll sign.”

Lee’s office has said he will sign another bill on his desk to require school districts to alert parents 30 days in advance before students are taught about sexual orientation or gender identity. Parents could also opt their student out of the lesson. The requirement would not apply when a teacher is responding to a student’s question or referring to a historic figure or group.


Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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