Public schools may be required to provide accommodations for students who want to use bathrooms opposite the ones designated for their sex at birth. According to the “Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act,” such alternative accommodations would extend to restrooms, changing rooms such as locker or shower rooms, and sleeping quarters while attending a school-sponsored activity. The act would also enable the student who requested alternative accommodations to take up a private right of action against the school if denied.
State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) introduced the bill about a month ago. Since then, it has been recommended for passage by the House K-12 Subcommittee and referred to the Education Committee several weeks ago.
Critics likened this bill to the failed 2016 bill which would have required students to use restrooms and locker rooms aligned with their sex on their birth certificate. However, Zachary’s spokespersons clarified with The Tennessee Star that this bill is different. In a statement to The Star, Zachary explained that the bill takes the entire educational community into consideration.
“This legislation guarantees reasonable accommodations for all children in our public schools while also protecting every child’s right to privacy,” said Zachary. “It removes the uncertainty and stress of making accommodations for all children from our teachers, administrators, parents, and students.”
In response to critics that said the bill stigmatizes transgender students, Zachary stated that the measure would do the opposite.
“The goal of House Bill 1233 is to be inclusive and respectful of all children in our public schools,” asserted Zachary.
In statements to reporters, Zachary shared that he’d received reports from schools that boys were using girls’ restrooms. He stated that the schools felt they couldn’t remedy certain student concerns under current law, and that his proposed legislation would clear that up.
Other current bills addressing transgender use of bathrooms include legislation proposed by State Representative Tim Rudd (R-Mufreesboro) and State Senator Paul Rose (R-Tipton). Their bill would require businesses to post notices on the exterior of their building notifying the public of any policies allowing either sex to use any public restroom.
Co-prime sponsors on the bill are Representatives William Lamberth (R-Portland), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Ron Gant (R-Rossville), Dan Howell (R-Cleveland), Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta), Rusty Grills (R-Newbern), Jerome Moon (R-Maryville), Michele Carringer (R-Knoxville), Mark Cochran (R-Englewood), John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Clay Doggett (R-Pulaski), Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), and Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna).
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Gender Neutral Bathroom Sign” by Ted Eytan. CC BY-SA 2.0.