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HB 1151 expands indecent exposure law

GLSEN denounces harmful Tennessee House Bill 1151

HB 1151 grossly expands the state’s indecent exposure law to specifically target and criminalize transgender people, including trans students

NEW YORK, NY (March 4, 2019) – GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, today spoke out against Tennessee House Bill 1151 which would grossly expand the state’s existing indecent exposure law to specifically target and criminalize transgender people, and could affect transgender students in locker rooms, bathrooms, or other school facilities. By attempting to twist and distort a public indecency law put in place to protect people from sexual harassment into a tool to criminalize transgender people, Tennessee legislators risk undermining public safety while opening the state up to rebuke and backlash.

“Tennessee state resources would be better spent in creating schools that are safe for all students instead of asking taxpayers to shoulder the cost of discrimination,” said Justin Sweatman-Weaver, Chair of GLSEN Tennessee. “With House Bill 1151 -  and eleven additional anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this legislative session - Tennessee risks being branded a “state of hate” and opening every resident up to the economic and reputational risks that come along with such an undesirable title.”

Transgender and gender nonconforming students are experiencing extremely hostile and unsupportive environments in Tennessee schools. According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey Tennessee state-level data, 71% of LGBTQ students in Tennessee experienced verbal harassment at school based on gender expression, and 35% experienced physical harassment based on gender expression. Moreover, nearly 3 in 4 transgender students in Tennessee were unable to use the school restroom aligned with their gender.

“Transgender and gender nonconforming students should not have to live in fear of being targeted or criminalized by the state, simply for using a locker room or bathroom just like any other student,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “All students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students who already face high levels of discrimination and harassment, deserve to feel safe and welcome at school so that they can learn and thrive.”

Senate Bill 1151 is part of a disturbingly anti-LGBTQ roster of legislation introduced in Tennessee known as the “Slate of Hate,” which also includes Senate Bill 1499/House Bill 1274 which would require the Attorney General to defend local education agencies - or their employees - when they implement anti-transgender bathroom and locker room policies.

In 2017, Tennessee legislators introduced a discriminatory bathroom access bill that failed to even make it out of committee. Senate Bill 1151, as well as Senate Bill 1499/House Bill 1274, are nothing more than attempts at an end-run around a policy that was already deemed a bad idea for the state.

On March 5, GLSEN Tennessee, Tennessee Equality Project, and advocates from across the state will be holding a press conference to oppose House Bill 1151, and the entire anti-LGBTQ “Slate of Hate.” Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/events/187435195477578. Follow GLSEN Tennessee (@GLSENTN) for updates and calls to action around HB1151 and “Slate of Hate” in Tennessee.

Media Contacts:

Justin Sweatman-Weaver, Chair, GLSEN Tennessee
tennessee@chapters.glsen.org | 931-704-8814

Sue Yacka-Bible, Senior Media Relations Manager, GLSEN National
sue.yacka-bible@glsen.org | press@glsen.org | 646-388-6575

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About GLSEN

GLSEN works to create safe and inclusive schools for all. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools, via action at the national, state, and local level. Over nearly three decades of work, GLSEN has improved conditions for LGBTQ students across the United States and launched an international movement to address LGBTQ issues in education and promote respect for all in schools. Find more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, school-based programs, research, and professional development for educators at www.glsen.org.