Working to Defeat Tennessee’s Slate of Hate

by HRC staff

A large rainbow flag is waved in front of the US Supreme Court.

Post submitted by: Melodía Gutiérrez, Associate Regional Campaign Director

As state lawmakers across the country sprint to provide economic recovery to families struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee lawmakers continue to focus on a remarkable amount of legislation, known as the Slate of Hate, which would cancel equality for the LGBTQ community.

Each year, Tennessee is one of the first states to introduce the most anti-LGBTQ legislation, and unfortunately this year is no exception — there are currently several bills making their way through legislative processes. As Tennessee lawmakers prioritize discrimination over economic relief, a 57% majority of Tennessee voters say, “we need to stop stigmatizing transgender people as a society,” and “majorities support new policies that would protect the rights of transgender people.” The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter asking lawmakers to oppose bills that target LGBTQ people. Additionally, 137 Tennessee-based businesses are in public opposition to all anti-LGBTQ legislation.

57% of Tennessee voters

say that we need to stop stigmatizing trans people

One of the most egregious pieces of legislation rapidly advancing is HB 3/SB 228, a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in team sports consistent with their gender identity. Less than a month into the legislative session, Gov. Bill Lee publicly announced his support of HB 3/SB 228, stating that transgender girls “will destroy women sports.” At present, there is not one single example of a Tennessee student-athlete or athletic program negatively affected. Bill sponsors even admit there has been absolutely no thoughtful endeavor to discuss the prospective legislation with the transgender community, parents, athletes or medical professionals who are experientially familiar with issues the proposed legislation purports to address.

Essentially, external agents without any meaningful experience, without any meaningful problem to solve and without taking anytime to understand the issues they seek to solve are taking time to regulate a community they know nothing about. There is a fundamental disconnect here about how we care for one another and how lawmakers seek to care for Tennessee.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule last year in Bostock v. Clayton County that anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is illegal in the workforce under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Moreover, President Biden issued an executive order signed on his first day of office seeking to implement Bostock, making it clear it applies in the context of bathrooms, locker rooms and sports.

Ultimately, this means the cost of discrimination is expensive: expensive to our economy and recovering tourism industry and expensive to litigate. It simply does not make sense to establish laws to provide “solutions” for problems that do not exist.

Compounding these efforts, are additional proposed bills that seek to ban medical professionals from providing best-practice medical health care to transgender youth, overturn same-sex marriage, dismantle diversity education and deny transgender Tennesseans access to the correct bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. It is crystal clear that anti-equality lawmakers are resolved to continue the push to advance legislation that would negatively impact the lives of LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families. Worse, bill sponsors march forward in their efforts to target transgender and non-binary youth — the most vulnerable and marginalized community.

HRC is proud to stand alongside Tennessee Equality Project and coalition partners to fight back against the growing Slate of Hate. If you live in Tennessee, we need your voice! Text TN to 472-472 to take action today!

Fight anti-trans legislation

Tell State Legislators to stop attacking the transgender community NOW! Your signature will send a message that we won’t back down when these lawmakers come for our community.