Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Signs Anti-LGBTQ Education Bill into Law

by Wyatt Ronan

TENNESSEE — Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 1229, a sweeping anti-LGBTQ education bill. This bill would require a school district to notify parents before “providing a sexual orientation curriculum or gender identity curriculum” in any kind of instruction, including but not limited to education on sexuality. This bill, along with the anti-transgender sports bill that Governor Lee recently signed into law, is part of the 2021 “Slate of Hate” — anti-equality bills pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division.

In addition to making it harder for students to access sex education, it could also preclude discussion about sexuality more broadly, including in literature and history classes. A district will be forced to notify parents, provide curriculum materials, and allow parents to opt students out of learning about important modern and historical events, from the A.I.D.S. epidemic to the Stonewall riots to even Supreme Court jurisprudence. This bill also disproportionately disadvantages LGBTQ youth who may not have supportive families and put children at greater risk of health consequences.

Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee state legislature’s ‘Slate of Hate’ bills are nothing more than a politically motivated effort to drum up fear and sow division – and SB 1229 is a discriminatory piece of legislation that would put the health and safety of LGBTQ students at risk. All students deserve access to a quality academic experience, including the opportunity to learn about themselves and critically important health information as they develop. Rather than drafting and passing inflammatory bills, state lawmakers should be focused on real issues like the COVID-19 pandemic or crumbling infrastructure that are impacting Tennesseeans.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

LGBTQ people are integral to the fabric of American society. Governor Lee and the Tennessee state legislature’s disgraceful attempts to erase LGBTQ individuals from coursework is discrimination in its clearest form. By signing SB 1229 into law, Governor Lee and Tennessee lawmakers are actively putting LGBTQ youth at risk, who already experience heightened levels of anxiety and depression. They must stop this rampage of discriminatory legislation.

Melodía Gutiérrez, Human Rights Campaign Associate Regional Campaign Director

Tennessee is one of 30 states that has introduced a slate of discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ legislation this session, part of a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. These anti-equality pieces of legislation are being pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division.

In addition to these two anti-LGBTQ bills, the Tennessee legislature has sent three additional bills to the governor’s desk for consideration; HB 1182 (SB 1224), student ‘bathroom bill,’ SB 1367 (HB 1233), another ‘bathroom bill,’ and SB 126 (HB 1027), anti-trans medical care ban.

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