Please, vote NO on SB1297, SB1304, and SB1499 on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
SB1297 has been amended to remove the portions of the bill directly targeting transgender people. Legislators have said in Senate and House committees that the bill now codifies existing law. If that is the case, there is no good reason to proceed with the bill. The fear remains that the bill, if enacted, could be used to harass and arrest transgender people in restrooms and changing rooms. The risk for misuse of such a law is a strong reason to vote NO.
SB1304, as amended in section 1c, would lead to taxpayer funds going to private adoption and foster care agencies that can turn people away from those agencies based on moral or religious reasons. Taxpayer funds should only be used in adoption and foster care services that are open to all objectively qualified parents. It's the most efficient use of state funds to work with agencies that accept all qualified parents because that leads to more adoptions and shorter wait times for children and youth needing a loving home.
SB1499 is an anti-transgender student bathroom bill. By providing the assistance of the Attorney General or private legal counsel, the State of Tennessee would be encouraging school districts to pursue bad policy that hurts students. That is an atrocious use of the office and of taxpayer funds. School districts are still likely to lose in court and have to pay thousands of dollars in legal settlements, so this bill will give them a false sense of security. But regardless of whether that happens, this bill makes Tennessee a target like North Carolina and we will lose millions in economic investment.
I am incredibly disappointed that Senate committees allowed these bills to get to the floor.
Thank you for considering my views.