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Tennessee could mandate bathroom signs about transgender use

The Republican-dominated Legislature gave the bill final passage Thursday, sending it to GOP Governor Bill Lee.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that requires businesses or government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multi-person bathrooms, locker rooms, or changing rooms associated with their gender identity. 

The Republican-dominated Legislature gave the bill final passage Thursday, sending it to GOP Governor Bill Lee.

The Human Rights Campaign opposes the proposed requirement and says it would be the first of its kind. 

Tennessee lawmakers already approved legislation leaving schools open to lawsuits if they let transgender children or employees use facilities associated with their gender identity.

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Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that would put public schools at risk of civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t reflect their gender at birth. 

The proposal cleared the Senate on Wednesday. 

There are slight differences from the version the House passed Monday. 

The bill is one of several LGTBQ-related measures the GOP-controlled General Assembly has introduced this year that critics have slammed as discriminatory.

Republican Governor Bill Lee recently signed a bill that bars transgender athletes from playing girls public high school or middle school sports.

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Tennessee House lawmakers have passed a bill that would put public schools at risk of civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t reflect their gender at birth. 

The proposal cleared the House on Monday. It must now pass the Senate before it can head to Governor Bill Lee’s desk.

The bill is one of several LGTBQ-related measures that the GOP-controlled General Assembly has introduced this year that critics have slammed as discriminatory. 

Lee recently signed a bill that bars transgender athletes from playing girls public high school or middle school sports.

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A state lawmaker from Knoxville introduced a bill that would effectively leave schools open to lawsuits if they allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, or other changing facilities that conform to their gender identity.  

Rep. Jason Zachary (R - Knoxville) introduced House Bill 1233 in February, also called the "Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act." The bill is one of many introduced this session that target transgender students, and is currently being considered by the Senate Education Committee and House Education Administration.

The bill allows students to sue a public school in chancery court if it does not provide "reasonable accommodation" to those unwilling to share multi-occupancy changing spaces, bathrooms or sleeping quarters with someone whose birth-assigned sex is different -- so long as that student submits a written request for accommodation.

If the school is unable to provide single-occupancy facilities as an accommodation, the student could sue the school for "all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered." 

Similar bills have drawn fierce criticism from LGBTQ and civil rights organizations for being discriminatory and promoting hate against transgender teens. Nearly 140 Tennessee businesses have signed a letter opposing anti-LGBTQ bills, according to WZTV in Nashville.

"We ask that lawmakers not pursue legislation that would target or exclude LGBT people of all ages. We need our workers and their families – including any transgender members of their families – to feel welcome. We urge policymakers to remain committed to the values of innovation and growth that we all share," the letter read. 

During this session, Tennessee lawmakers have advanced other bills targeting transgender people, including one that would prevent teens from participating on school sports teams that align to their gender identity, and another requiring businesses to post notices outside bathrooms if it is inclusive to transgender people.