The war against LGBT Americans in the south continues to rage on.
Lawmakers in Tennessee on Wednesday advanced two pieces of legislation that target LGBT individuals in the state. One bill would allow therapists in the state to deny service to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. Another is a so-called ‘bathroom bill’ that singles out transgender students for unjust discrimination.
The state House on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow counselors to deny services to individuals based on sincerely held beliefs, letting them refuse to help gay individuals. State Rep. Dan Howell (R) has pushed the legislation in response to a change in the American Counseling Association’s ethics code that tells counselors not to refer clients “based solely on the counselor’s personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”
The state House education committee also passed a bill on Wednesday that would require students to use the bathroom that aligns with their sex at birth, reviving legislation that the committee tabled a month ago due to concern from some Republicans.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has expressed concern over the bill and whether it could cost the state education funding from the federal government. He’s argued that schools should decide their bathroom policies.
Continuing its tactic of using business interests to try and influence lawmakers, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) rallied companies Dow Chemical, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Choice Hotels International, Inc., and Alcoa, Inc. to sign a letter to Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwel, calling on them to abandon the bills.
SB 2387 and HB 2414 would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has echoed concerns that the discriminatory measure would compromise the state’s three billion dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. His spokesperson also said the governor “trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations” for transgender students. The legislation offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it would force schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.