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Bathroom bill hearing set for next week

Xavier Smith • Updated Mar 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The controversial “bathroom bill” will receive its first hearing next week after it was put on notice Tuesday, according to bill sponsor Mark Pody, R-Lebanon.

The bill, also sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, was assigned to the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee earlier this month. The bill would require students in state high schools and colleges to use restrooms and locker room facilities that align with the sex indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.

Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, pulled her version of the bill last year after pushback regarding the bill’s appropriateness. 

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s administration revoked guidance to public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. Trump argued states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions regarding transgender students and their access to restrooms and locker rooms. 

Following the administration’s revocation, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said the duo’s bathroom bill is no longer necessary. However, the bill sponsors said the administration’s move was just the first step.

“With the president saying it is a state issue, I believe that is a signal that we need to act to make sure our state takes a stand and has bathrooms and locker rooms for our schools where they will be safe,” Beavers said in a Facebook post.

“To make sure we have a guiding state law (so counties like Davidson don’t give students a choice), we need to pass this law, which was supported by most legislators last year,” she said. 

Lynn pulled her bill on a day when more than two-dozen pastors from the Tennessee Pastors Network joined members of the Family Action Council of Tennessee to show support for the bill.

At the same time, transgender high school students Henry Seaton and Jennifer Guenst, who testified against the bill earlier last year, delivered petitions with more than 67,000 signatures from people opposed to the bill. 

Pody and Beavers abruptly ended a joint press conference regarding the bathroom bill and Natural Marriage Defense Bill after protestors began chanting shortly after it started.

Protesters packed the conference room in the Legislative Plaza, and shortly after Pody began to speak, they started to chant, “Pull the bill.” 

Pody stopped and asked if he could finish, and when the crowd continued to chant, he said, “I appreciate you all coming. Thank you very much.”

Pody and Beavers then left the room and went to their respective offices. Protesters followed them and apparently confronted them. Law enforcement officers were on hand to escort the legislators.

Lebanon Democrat reporter Jake Old contributed to this report.

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