HRC Condemns TN Governor Lee for Signing Three Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills Into Law; State Has Passed 19 Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws Since 2015

by HRC Staff

Tennessee has passed more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation than any state since 2015

Nashville, Tennessee – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for signing three anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law last night:

  • HB 239 / SB 1440 an LGBTQ+ Erasure law, which adopts a discriminatory definition of sex that excludes LGBTQ+ people from state non-discrimination laws. It also allows discrimination against transgender people in critical services including rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, detention facilities, bathrooms, locker rooms, school athletics and beyond.

  • HB 1269 / SB 466, which allows for the intentional misgendering and deadnaming of transgender and non-binary students by their peers and teachers.

  • HB 158 / SB 102, which prohibits public education institutions from requiring implicit bias training.

Governor Lee has already signed four anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law earlier this year, a curriculum censorship bill, an anti-transgender sports ban, a ban on age-appropriate, best practice gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and a now-enjoined law criminalizing drag performances on public property or any location where people under 18 could be present. Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQ+ laws than any other state in the country, now 19 in total, including four laws preventing transgender students from playing sports consistent with their gender identity, two bathroom bans, a law allowing discrimination by state contractors providing child welfare services paid for with taxpayer funds, curriculum censorship laws, and more. Tennessee’s attack on LGBTQ+ people has been unrelenting.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement:

“This entire legislative session, extremist politicians in Tennessee have spent their time attacking the LGBTQ+ community. We’re now nearing almost 20 anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed in Tennessee since 2015, making it increasingly hostile and unlivable for LGBTQ+ Tennesseans, and particularly for transgender and nonbinary people. Governor Lee has crafted his own legacy - a legacy stained with discrimination, propaganda, and harm. LGBTQ+ people will not be erased, no matter what Lee and the legislature do. Tennesseans will continue fighting back.”

THE FACTS: 2023 Becoming Worst Year On Record for Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 220 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date. This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 125 gender-affirming care bans — bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 14 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma;

  • More than 30 anti-transgender bathroom bills filed;

  • More than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bills, and;

  • 45 anti-LGBTQ+ drag performance ban bills.

Americans believe the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is excessive, agreeing it is “political theater.” Likely voters across all political parties look at GOP efforts to flood state legislatures with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as political theater. Recent polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters, including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think that there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” (Data For Progress survey of 1,220 likely voters, 3/24-26, 2023).

By comparison, last year in 2022 politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 29 of which were enacted into law. These efforts — the result of a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes seeking to slander, malign, and stigmatize LGBTQ+ people — only yielded a less than 10% success rate, as more than 90% of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were defeated. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children. By the end of the 2022 state legislative season, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children were enacted into law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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