In a letter this week, ASAE asked Governor Bill Lee to veto a bill it says “promotes mistreatment of a targeted LGBTQ population and threatens to give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination in Tennessee.”
ASAE delivered a letter [PDF] to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on May 6 urging him to veto a bill that would require businesses and public facilities in the state to post signs if they allow transgender and other non-binary people to use the restroom in their establishment that matches their gender identity.
The bill (House Bill 1182) was passed by Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate last Thursday and was sent to Gov. Lee’s desk for signature. If enacted, businesses will have to start posting signs that must read: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”
The bill is vigorously opposed by the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ advocates, as well as the powerful music industry in Nashville, among others. ASAE, which plans to hold its 2022 Annual Meeting in Nashville, said the bill “promotes mistreatment of a targeted LGBTQ population and threatens to give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination in Tennessee.”
ASAE has previously opposed so-called “bathroom bills” in North Carolina and Texas. While the Tennessee bill would not explicitly prevent transgender or other non-binary individuals from using a restroom that matches their gender identity, the signage could subject them and businesses with inclusive policies to harassment.
“Proponents of this bill may believe it is narrowly focused, but the reality is that it has garnered national attention and broadcasts an unflattering message about the state and its treatment of all individuals who reside in or visit the state,” said ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE, in the letter to Gov. Lee.
The governor has 10 days from when the bill is received to sign or veto it, or take no action, which allows the bill to become law.