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Tennessee Law Addresses School Bathrooms

June 19th, 2021

Tennessee’s Governor recently signed legislation that prohibits transgender students and staff from using bathrooms or locker rooms that conform to their gender identity. The bill limits communal school bathrooms and locker rooms to be used by people depending on their  “biological sex” at the time of birth. The bill also requires schools to provide “reasonable accommodation” for students who are not willing to use the communal areas.

The Nature of the Bill

The measure, also referred to as House Bill 1233 or the Tennessee Accommodations for All 

Children Act, states that students and staff are permitted to only use “multi-occupancy” restrooms or changing rooms with other people of the same biological sex. The legislation defines sex as a person’s “immutable” biological sex as based on anatomy and genetics that exist at the time of the individual’s birth. Due to this legislation, transgender girls would be required to use facilities intended for boys and transgender boys would be required to use facilities meant for girls.

House Bill 1233 requires schools to provide “reasonable accommodation” for students who are either unable or unwilling to use the bathroom that matches with their biological sex at the time of birth. These accommodations include access to single-occupancy restrooms or changing facilities as well as the use of employee restrooms or changing facilities.

The bill was signed into law by Tennessee’s Governor recently and indirectly opens public schools to lawsuits if they permit transgender staff or students to use bathrooms or locker rooms to conform to their gender identity. 

Other Recent Legislation Address LGBTQ Youth in Tennessee

This measure is not the only recent legislation that addresses LGBTQ youth. Another recent bill prohibits transgender students from playing on sports teams with other students of the same gender. Yet another bill requires schools to give a 30-day notice to parents before lessons about gender identity or sexual orientation so the parent can opt-out.

The Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act permits schools to be sued for all harm suffered if an individual interacts with a person of the “opposite sex” in either a communal bathroom, changing area, or as required by sharing sleeping quarters with an individual of the “opposite sex” during an overnight school trip.

Response to the Legislation

The Republican legislature who sponsored the bill previously commented that he supported the legislation because it was a “smart approach.” A spokesperson for the Republican` legislature was not immediately available for comment.

Organizations that support the advancement of LGBTQ rights have expressed criticism of the bill. For example, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement condemning the measure. The Human Rights Campaign argues that the Tennessee legislature by supporting such measures is using its power to both harm and further stigmatize transgender youth in the state.

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

In the last few years, several setbacks have occurred regarding the rights of transexual individuals. Often, these setbacks are couched in the language of acknowledging the “religious rights” of other individuals. Each week, the Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy changes in transexual rights. Our blog focuses on describing these changes in a way that objectively examines both sides.

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