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Tennessee Tables Gender Identity Bill After Sponsor Says Tweaks Needed

The Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.
Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives
Getty Images
The Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.

Tennessee's Legislature is no longer considering a bill requiring transgender students to use school bathrooms based on their gender as assigned at birth, instead of their identified gender.

The measure had been hotly debated, The Associated Press reports, with religious organizations urging its advancement, saying it would protect children's privacy, and opponents saying suggesting it was discriminatory.

The bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Susan Lynn, says she wants to revise the legislation and reintroduce it next year.

"We know as soon as this bill passes, we're going to be sued. So if we're going to be heading into a lawsuit, we want to make sure we have the strongest position possible," she said, according to the AP.

Critics of the bill had also suggested there would be economic backlash — from the federal government and the business community — if the bill passed. (North Carolina recently passed a gender identity law, and some states, businesses and artists have responded with economic retaliation.)

According to Nashville Public Radio, "Lynn denies that concerns about losing federal funding was a factor, although dozens of corporations have already come out against the bill."

Nashville Public Radio describes the last-minute lobbying at the legislative plaza on Monday morning, saying several dozen pastors gathered to support the bill, led by David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee:

"Fowler insisted that the bill was worth the risk. He emphasized the safety of public school students and shrugged off financial threats, saying Tennessee's economy can survive a little opposition.

"Meanwhile, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, along with a few transgender students and their families, delivered petitions to Governor Haslam's office with more than 67,000 signatures."

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.