National business leaders urge TN lawmakers to abandon legislation targeting trans youth
Executives from the Dow Chemical Company, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Choice Hotels International, Inc., and Alcoa, Inc. have signed onto a letter addressed to Tennessee Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell urging state lawmakers to abandon HB 2414 and SB 2387 — discriminatory legislation that would force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.
“These business leaders know that discrimination is both bad for business and bad for Tennessee,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin while making the announcement earlier this week. “Tennessee lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure all students are treated with basic human dignity and respect, and this discriminatory legislation targeting transgender students flies in the face of that responsibility. The people of Tennessee deserve better than the economic fallout North Carolina is facing because of Governor McCrory’s failed leadership. We urge Tennessee lawmakers to listen to the voices of reason and abandon this reckless legislation.”
The full letter can be found here and below.
In addition to executives from these major corporations, Viacom, the parent company of Country Music Television, also issued a statement this week urging lawmakers to reject the legislation, saying: “Viacom and CMT have a deep commitment to tolerance, diversity and inclusion, and discriminatory laws like HB2414 and SB2387 are inconsistent with our values. As proud members of Tennessee’s welcoming and vibrant business community, we implore state lawmakers to reject these proposals.”
A coalition made up of fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project; Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; Tennessee ACLU; and the Human Rights Campaign have been calling on lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory legislation that would further compound the marginalization and harassment transgender students already face. Seven major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have condemned this type of discriminatory legislation — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association. Expressing strong opposition, the organizations made clear that the proposals “would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.”
While South Dakota’s Republican Governor vetoed a similar bill, North Carolina’s Governor McCrory signed into law a measure that, among other discriminatory provisions, includes a similar appalling attack on transgender students. Because of Governor McCrory’s failed leadership, North Carolina is now facing economic fallout inflicted on the state by anti-equality activists. Over 130 major business leaders have signed onto a letter urging North Carolina to repeal that discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session.
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. Read more about how these bills put federal funding at risk here.
According to the Williams Institute, there are over 10,000 transgender youth in Tennessee between the ages of 13 and 19.
The full letter states:
Dear Lieutenant Governor Ramsey and Speaker Harwell,
We write with concerns about legislation being considered in Tennessee. HB 2414 and SB 2387 would deny transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, at both K-12 and public universities in Tennessee. Put simply, HB 2414 and SB 2387 is not legislation that reflects the values of our companies.
We are disappointed to see the legislature consider discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that SB 2387 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.
Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Tennessee or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to not to pass this bill.
Steve Joyce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alcoa Inc.
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO and Chairman of the Board, The Dow Chemical Company
Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprises