Tennessee A.G. Warns Against ‘Bathroom Bill’

     NASHVILLE (CN) – Tennessee’s attorney general said in a legal opinion that a transgender “bathroom bill” may violate federal law and cost public schools and colleges funding.
     H.B. 2414 would require students in public schools and colleges to use restrooms that are designated for the sex that is shown on their birth certificate.
     It would effectively ban transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
     Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III said Monday in a legal opinion that the proposed law could violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 because the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) “interprets Title IX to require that transgender students be given access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their ‘gender identity’ instead of their anatomical gender.”
     “There well may be valid legal arguments against DOE’s interpretation, but there is no settled precedent to provide guidance as to how a court may ultimately rule; this is a new, undeveloped, and evolving area of the law,” Slatery wrote. “But, as things currently stand, we must, as a practical matter, assume that H.B. 2414 would violate Title IX, because the enforcer of Title IX has clearly interpreted – and enforced – Title IX to prohibit as ‘discriminatory on the basis of sex’ what H.B. 2414 is designed to accomplish.”
     Slatery said enacting the so-called “bathroom bill” would put Tennessee public schools and universities at risk for losing federal funding.
     “If a transgender student is required by a school district in Tennessee to use a restroom or locker room facility that is consistent with his or her anatomical gender rather than his or her gender expression or gender identity, and if that student files a complaint, DOE, applying its current interpretation of Title IX, will almost certainly require the school district to permit the student access to the facility consistent with his or her gender expression, and refusal to do so could very well result in loss of federal funding – at least until DOE’s interpretation is overruled by authoritative and binding judicial decision,” he wrote in the 5-page opinion.
     LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called on the music industry in Nashville to fight against the bill. GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said during a press conference Monday that “anti-LGBT bills will jeopardize this state’s economy.”
     “Nashville is America’s music capital, and the companies, artists, and allied businesses here alone contribute more than $9.7 billion dollars to this state’s economy,” Ellis said. “I am here today to call on the music industry to stand with us, alongside television networks and film studios who stood with us in Georgia, in a united front against discrimination.”
     Ellis was joined at the press conference by actor and musician Chris Carmack, who plays gay country music star Will Lexington on the ABC show “Nashville.”
     “This kind of unnecessary discrimination has no place in this city or the state of Tennessee,” Carmack said.
     Social conservative group Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) slammed Slatery’s opinion.
     “The people of Tennessee are tired of having their public policies being dictated to them by the various branches of the federal government, and they sure don’t want the state surrendering without a fight to the Obama administration on whether boys can choose to use a girl’s bathroom or locker room,” FACT President David Fowler said in a statement.

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