Post submitted by Hayley Miller, former HRC Associate Director of Digital and Social
The Tennessee legislature is working to fast track and pass several anti-LGBTQ bills, including business license to discriminate, child welfare and anti-trans bills, known to advocates as the Slate of Hate. With a number of bills having had significant movement in the House, bills are being scheduled in the Senate. These proposed measures will not only cost taxpayers, but will ultimately have a significant impact on the State of Tennessee.
The are four dangerous bills HRC is currently monitoring:
SB 1499, a bill to require the Attorney General to defend anti-transgender school policies, is scheduled for a hearing today in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its companion bill, HB 1274, has already passed the House Judiciary and has now been scheduled in the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee on Wednesday, April 17. SB 1499 would require the Tennessee Attorney General to either pay for legal costs or itself defend discriminatory anti-transgender school policies - an obvious attempt to encourage school districts that want to deny transgender students access to the correct bathrooms and locker rooms in K-12 schools. In short, this bill would mandate that taxpayers foot the bill for schools determined to discriminate against transgender students in violation of federal civil rights law.
HB 1151, a discriminatory bill amending the state’s indecent exposure law, has passed the House and has passed first consideration in the Senate. Though a House subcommittee amended the bill to remove some of the most harmful anti-transgender language, the bill still could put transgender and non-binary people at increased risk of harassment and entanglement with law enforcement simply for using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The Senate companion, SB 1297, was similarly amended, and has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is currently in the Senate Calendar Committee to be scheduled for a floor vote.
HB 836, a bill that would create a license to discriminate in child welfare services, passed the House by a vote of 67-22, and has been received in the Senate on second reading. HB 836 would allow state contractors who provide taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services to refuse to make child placements with qualified, loving families if the family doesn’t share all of the agency’s religious beliefs. SB 1304, companion bill, has been reset for the last Senate Judiciary calendar. If SB 1304 is scheduled, this will put the license to discriminate in child welfare bill one-step closer to the governor's desk. These proposals state-licensed child-placing agencies would be allowed to disregard the best interest of children and turn away qualified Tennesseans seeking to care for a child in need. This would include LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.
BREAKING: SB 364 REMOVED FROM CONSIDERATION! SB 364, a “business license to discriminate” bill, is scheduled for a hearing today, April 16, in the Senate State & Local Government Committee. The companion bill, HB 563, has already passed the House and is on second reading in the Senate. These bills would prohibit cities and state agencies from implementing policies that bar taxpayer funds from being used by businesses, organizations, contractors, and grantees to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment policies.
HRC is proud to join with the Tennessee Equality Project to vigorously oppose bills that seek to discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families. Text HRCTN to 472472 or visit hrc.im/HRCTN to stop this dangerous legislation from becoming law.