Opinion: Tell Tennessee Legislators to Say No to 'Potty Monitoring'

House Bill 2414, more commonly known simply as “the bathroom bill” would require all students at public schools and universities in Tennessee to use bathrooms and locker rooms accord with the gender on their original birth certificate (which can’t be altered for gender according to current Tennessee law). This means that transgender and gender-nonconforming students would be forced to use facilities that don't line up with their gender—even if they've had their birth certificate updated.

This egregious “potty monitoring bill” would subject school children and college students to unnecessary daily suffering at institutions that should be devoted to their care and education. Forcing these youth to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate exposes them to an unnecessary risk of bullying, and even in the absence of bullying it can and will do psychological harm. Outed as transgender to their peers, they would become targets, and the anxiety would harm their ability to learn in that environment.

Enforcement of the bill would be expensive: who is going to pay for the monitors to check birth certificates? Further it exposes the children to shaming or predation: who exactly are we going to allow to check the genitals of our children to make sure the birth certificate is accurate? Further, a gender test risks all Title IX funding, which Tennessee simply cannot afford.

For this reason we must fight this legislation. So far, organizations like the Tennessee Equality Project and Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition have been organizing grassroots activism,and lobbying lawmakers. Numerous petitions have circulated aiming at preventing the bill from progressing past subcommittee, from those circulated by the Tennessee Equality Project to several that were independently launched (one calling on Representative Susan Lynn to withdraw House Bill 2414 before it reached a House subcommittee received over 1,500 signatures in just a few days).

However, today, Tuesday, March 15, the subcommittee took up the bill, and it is being allowed to progress to the full committee, where it will be heard next week. But there are still numerous ways you can fight this anti-LGBT extremist and expensive legislation (estimates say this legislation could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars) as it works its way through the General Assembly and help protect all students, and especially transgender and gender nonconforming students, from its harmful effects.

The Facebook pages of the Tennessee Equality Project and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition will help you access more information on how to oppose these bills. But you don’t have to do much to make your voice heard. IF YOU LIVE IN TENNESSEE, please click here to send a pre-written letter to all of the members of the House Education Administration Planning Committee and the Senate Education Committee. Working together, the people of Tennessee can still stop this legislation before it comes to the floor.

We MUST stop this bill before it gets to the floor, because it will likely pass if it gets that far, and for all the reasons state above that is bad for Tennessee, bad for the LGBT community, and devastating for trans and gender nonconforming students of all ages in Tennessee. Make your voices heard and help draw a line in the sand now.



Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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