Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a controversial law regarding access to gender-specific bathrooms late last week, prompting cries of discrimination from advocates for transgender individuals.
The bill, dubbed The Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act, requires all public schools in the state to make what it calls "reasonable accommodation" for someone who "will not or cannot" use a gender-specific bathroom.
The law says a person's gender is "a person's immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth."
It defines reasonable accommodation as "access to a single-occupancy restroom or changing facility, or use of an employee restroom or changing facility."
"A reasonable accommodation does not include access to a restroom or changing facility that is designated for use by members of the opposite sex while persons of the opposite sex are present or could be present," it notes.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blasted the governor's signing in a statement issued on Friday, calling it openly discriminatory.
"These anti-equality pieces of legislation are being pushed by national extremist groups and peddled by lawmakers in Tennessee in an effort to sow fear and division," the HRC said. "The bill further discriminates against transgender students and opens up schools to legal consequences if a student believes they have shared a sex-segregated space – bathrooms, locker rooms or other changing facility – with a transgender student. This bill is squarely in defiance of federal law and flagrantly discriminatory."
CNN reported 44 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based on sex in public accommodations and noted "federal law does not prohibit discrimination based on sex, gender identity or sexual orientation in public accommodations," citing the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“It’s a reasonable accommodation, it allows for accommodation for every student regardless of their gender," Lee said in a statement ahead of the signing. "I think that’s a smart approach to the challenge. And I’ll be signing that.”