Republican state congresswoman Susan Lynn recently introduced a bill in Tennessee’s House of Representatives that would force public school students, kindergarten through 12th grade, to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex assigned to them at birth. Although she has not shifted her perspective on this issue, she has decided to postpone legislative action.
The Tennessean reports that on Monday, April 18, Lynn, the bill’s sponsor and “an outspoken proponent of the measure,” announced her intention to “[delay] any action on the highly contentious measure in an effort to further study the issue.”
“I have learned that our school districts are largely following what the bill says,” she told The Tennessean. “I am still absolutely 100 percent in support of maintaining the privacy of all students. But I’m going to roll the bill over until next year so we can work on those issues.”
Lynn’s decision has been championed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. Executive director Hedy Weinberg explains to The Tennessean that “Today’s move helps ensure every child in Tennessee will be treated with respect and dignity.” She moreover asserts, “We will remain vigilant to ensure that all Tennessee children are treated equally under the law.”
Transgender high school students have emphasized that the law Lynn has been pushing through Congress would enable bullying and generally jeopardize their safety. They also remark that their decision to use one bathroom rather than another has not previously caused concern.
“I’m a boy — I live my life as a boy, my friends know me as a boy, my parents accept me as a boy,” transgender student Henry Seaton declares in a statement. “I shouldn’t have to use the teacher’s bathroom because some politicians feel uncomfortable with who I am.”
Nonetheless, proponents of the bill, like Family Action Council of Tennessee President and former state senator David Fowler, are dismayed that Lynn has halted the bill’s progress.
“We join the thousands of parents across the state who are profoundly disappointed that at this point in the process Rep. Lynn has decided not to proceed with a bill that would have simply protected the privacy of the children they have entrusted to our public schools,” he tells The Tennessean in a statement.
But for many, the ramifications of this bill are far from “simple.” Transgender high school student Jennifer Guenst explains that “this bill...would create a lot of problems for me and my friends.”
According to The Tennessean, Attorney General Herbert Slatery composed a statement in early April “saying the state could be in jeopardy of losing more than $1.2 billion in federal Title IX funding if the bill became a law. Title IX bars discrimination in education based on sex.” There has also been speculation that the state would lose significant revenue from businesses withdrawing in protest. However, Rep. Lynn states that these money matters did not influence her decision to stall the bill.
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