Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee quietly signed a law that prohibits trans students and staff from using bathrooms or locker rooms that match their gender

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

  • Tennesee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that prohibits trans students and staff from using restrooms and changing rooms that match their gender.
  • The bill requires that communal school bathrooms and lockers be limited to those of the same “biological sex” at birth.
  • Schools must provide “reasonable accommodations” for students “unwilling or unable” to use the communal areas, according to the legislation.
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Tennesee Gov. Bill Lee on Friday signed into law a bill that opens public schools up to lawsuits if they allow transgender students or staff to use bathrooms or locker room that matches their gender identity, the Advocate first reported.

Lee, a Republican, signed the bill Friday quietly without releasing a public statement, though he previously said he supported the legislation because it was a “smart approach to the challenge,” the Chatanooga Times Free Press reported.

A spokesperson for Lee did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday.

The bill, House Bill 1233 or the “Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act,” says students and staff may only use a multi-occupancy restroom or changing room, like a locker room, with other people of the same “biological sex.”

The legislation defines sex as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth,” meaning transgender girls would be required to use facilities meant for boys and transgender girls would be required to use facilities meant for boys.

The bill says that schools must provide “reasonable accommodation” for students “unwilling or unable” to use the bathroom that aligns with their biological sex at birth. These accommodations include “access to a single-occupancy restroom or changing facility, or use of an employee restroom or changing facility,” according to the legislation.

The Tennesee Accommodations for All Children Act allows schools to be sued for “all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” should an individual come into contact with a person of the “opposite sex” in a communal bathroom or changing area or be required to share sleeping quarters with a person of the “opposite sex” during an overnight school trip.

As the Advocate noted, Lee this year signed two additional bills targeting LGBTQ youth, including a bill that bars trans students from playing on sports teams with other students of the same gender and a bill that requires schools to give a 30-day notice to parents before any lesson about sexual orientation or gender identity so parents may opt-out.

Organizations that champion the rights of LGBTQ people opposed the bill, including the Human Rights Campaign, which released a statement condemning Lee’s signing of the bill Friday.

“By advancing hateful legislation like HB 1233 (SB 1367), Tennessee Gov. Lee and state legislators are using their power to harm and further stigmatize trans youth in Tennessee,” said Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign.

He added: “The state of Tennessee is quickly becoming a national leader for anti-LGBTQ legislation, as lawmakers would rather discriminate against LGBTQ youth than focus on real problems facing Tennesseans. I want to be clear: Gov. Lee’s shameful decision to sign this baseless and discriminatory bill into law will harm the health and well-being of trans students in Tennessee by creating daily degrading experiences for them at school. These ‘Slate of Hate’ bills are unjustifiable and must stop.”

Republicans governors and GOP-led state legislatures across the US this year have targeted transgender youth, from bills that probit them from playing on sports teams with people of the same gender to more aggressive bills that deny them access to gender-affirming medical care.

The Tennesse law takes effect July 1.

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