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Gov. Bill Lee signs law requiring Tennessee schools to out transgender students

Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into law that requires schools to tell parents if their child has asked to go by a different name or set of pronouns.
Blaise Gainey
Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into law that requires schools to tell parents if their child has asked to go by a different name or set of pronouns.

Tennessee teachers may now be required to out transgender students to their parents, under a measure signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee. The legislation requires schools to alert parents if their child has requested to go by a name, or set of pronouns, that differs from their school forms.

The new law also gives parents a path for civil action against schools that don’t comply.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Littleton (R-Dickson), said she introduced the legislation because parents have a right to know what goes on in their child’s school.

“I also think that possibly they could get that child some therapy that could help them solve their problems and make their way through school,” Littleton said on the House floor.

Rep. Justin J. Pearson (D-Memphis) called the bill is dangerous.

“We have a responsibility and an obligation to make sure schools are safe for children to learn in, and a part of that is to ensure that who they are and their identities are welcomed and are supported,” he said.

Littleton has also drawn criticism from LGBTQ advocates for another bill she proposed this legislative session, establishing that queer foster kids do not have to be placed in supportive homes.

The ACLU has warned that legislation outing children poses a serious danger to trans kids.

“Trans people are much more likely to be abused by their immediate family based on their gender identity, and high risks of abuse and family rejection mean trans youth are overrepresented in foster care homes, juvenile detention centers, and homeless shelters. These high rates of familial rejection and abuse dramatically increase the risks of suicidality, substance abuse, and depression. Not every child can be their true selves at home without risking their physical or emotional well-being,” the ACLU said.

The new law takes effect immediately.

Blaise Gainey is a Political Reporter for WPLN News. He is the youngest of three siblings, husband and father of two. He previously held the State Government Reporter position for WFSU News in Tallahassee. He is from Apopka, Fla., and graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He previously worked for The Florida Channel and WTXL-TV. He is excited to move to another capital and report on state government. In his spare time, he enjoys watching sports, outdoor activities and enjoying family time.
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