This week, Tennessee lawmakers passed the "Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act," which would allow students to express religious beliefs in homework, artwork and assignments.
Though framed as a measure to protect a student’s freedom of speech, the bill opens up state-sanctioned avenues to bully LGBT students. Under the “religious liberties” measure, a student could be permitted to personally target an LGBT student by couching the bullying in religious terms.
Despite lawmakers’ claims, the core, non-discriminatory protections stipulated in the measure are redundant to those allocated under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Equality Access Act.
Only a veto from Governor Haslem can stop this bill from becoming law.
The Tennessee bill is the latest in a slew of state legislation nationwide that aims to enshrine LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.