HRC’s Weekly State Fights Report: The Hate State – MAGA’s Vision for Tennessee

by Brandon Wolf

Data Updated April 12



Across the country, the anti-LGBTQ+ agenda is facing headwinds. States like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are successfully fending off new attacks. And in multiple election cycles, voters have rejected overt transphobia as a campaign strategy. Still, MAGA lawmakers in Tennessee continue their discriminatory crusade unabated. The state has already passed more anti-equality legislation in the last decade than any other state. Over the last few sessions, politicians have targeted academic freedom, medical freedom, the freedom for young people to play sports with their friends, the freedom to use restrooms in peace, and the freedom for drag artists to perform. Their hate continues this year.

SB 1738, which would allow a potential foster or adoptive parent to sue if they believe they've been discriminated against because of their anti-LGBTQ+ views, was signed by the governor last week. It would allow placement of an LGBTQ+ child with a family who believes that LGBTQ+ identities are sinful or problematic and even allow foster and adoptive parents to enroll them in the abusive and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” SB 2503, which would terminate the human rights commission with no wind-down period, create the human rights division in the office of attorney general, and transfer the commission's functions to the new division, awaits the governor’s signature. And more bills are racing through both chambers. By the time this legislative session ends, Tennessee could have DOUBLE the number of anti-LGBTQ+ laws on the books as any other state. Though the anti-LGBTQ+ agenda is a failing political strategy, Tennessee’s MAGA contingent is doubling down on hate.


On Friday evening, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a ban on access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth, setting up a showdown with the GOP-led legislature. They are set to convene in the coming weeks with an eye toward overriding that veto, an effort that has fallen short several times before.


Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills

  • Nebraska: On Friday, April 5th, LB 575, a bill restricting access to school bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports for transgender students, failed to proceed on a procedural vote to end the filibuster by two votes.

  • Idaho: On Wednesday, Governor Brad Little signed H 421, which defines sex based on potential for sperm or egg production, makes the term "gender" synonymous with "sex" and explicitly excludes "gender identity” from state statute. It also requires all state laws, rules, and policies to treat individuals according to the sex they were assigned at birth. The governor also signed H 538, which allows government employees and public-school students to deadname and misgender one another without facing disciplinary action. The new law also prohibits school staff from knowingly addressing a transgender student by their affirming name or pronouns without written parental consent. Government employers, public schools and colleges can be subject to civil liability and monetary damages for any violations under this new law.

  • New Hampshire: On Friday, April 5th, the New Hampshire Senate passed two anti-LGBTQ+ bills. SB375 would prohibit transgender students from participating in school sports, and would also restrict access to school locker rooms. SB523 would make it easier to challenge and ban school materials. Both bills will move next to the House for consideration.

  • Ohio: On Wednesday, the House Education committee passed HB183, an anti-transgender bathroom bill which would require K-12 and college students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex assigned at birth.

  • Tennessee:
    • Today, the House is scheduled to vote on SB2165, a bill that could lead to forced outing of LGBTQ+ students.

    • Last Wednesday, the Senate concurred on the House version of HB1634 as amended. This bill would remove a teacher's obligation to ensure that students are not denied or excluded from important educational programs or benefits on the basis of their family status or their sexual orientation and would remove the requirement that sex ed programs in school be medically accurate. After parliamentary formalities, the next step will be the governor.

    • On Thursday, the Senate passed SB2782, a bill that creates a cause of action against any person who brings a minor who resides in Tennessee to another state to receive gender-affirming care.

    • The House is also moving to advance HB2784. This bill establishes deadlines for colleges and universities to investigate student and employee reports alleging that they were penalized for refusing to support so-called “divisive concepts”, specific ideologies, or political views. An institution that fails to investigate or take action within the timeframe would be subject to a withholding of state funds.


“This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children. I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value. To be clear, this legislation tramples parental rights. The last place that I would want to be as a politician is between a parent and a child who needed medical care of any kind. And, yet, that is exactly what this legislation does.
If the legislature paid this much attention to the other 99.8% of students, we’d have the best schools on earth.”

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on her veto of SB 233

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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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