Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) has signed three more anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law, two of which specifically target the trans community.
S.B. 466 says teachers do not have to honor students’ pronouns and can refer to them using the pronoun associated with their sex assigned at birth without penalty.
S.B. 1440 legally defines “sex” as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth and evidence of a person’s biological sex.” The bill adds that “evidence of a person’s biological sex” includes government-issued identification documents.
S.B. 102 says public education entities, including schools, higher education, the state board of education, and the Department of Education, cannot require staff or teachers to participate in implicit bias training.
Tennessee has passed 19 anti-LGBTQ+ laws since 2015. This year, it has become an epicenter of Republican-fueled anti-LGBTQ+ vitriol. In 2023, the state passed the nation’s first drag ban and banned gender-affirming care for minors. If the lawsuits challenging the health care ban are unsuccessful, the law will also require trans youth to detransition by next year. Lee also signed an anti-trans sports bill this year, as well as a law that makes it more challenging for students to receive inclusive sex education.
Additionally, Lee announced in January that his administration was rejecting $8.8 million in federal funds provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for HIV prevention and treatment. Some of that money would have gone to groups associated with trans healthcare, and after a months-long outrage campaign by right-wing media, Lee finally threw the baby out with the bathwater.
“This entire legislative session, extremist politicians in Tennessee have spent their time attacking the LGBTQ+ community,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakely. “We’re now nearing almost 20 anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed in Tennessee since 2015, making it increasingly hostile and unlivable for LGBTQ+ Tennesseans, and particularly for transgender and nonbinary people. Governor Lee has crafted his own legacy – a legacy stained with discrimination, propaganda, and harm. LGBTQ+ people will not be erased, no matter what Lee and the legislature do. Tennesseans will continue fighting back.”