Memphis, Tennessee — April 14, 2016. The following statement regarding Tennessee Attorney General Slatery’s opinion of House Bill 2414, Tennessee’s “bathroom bill,” can be attributed to CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum:
In his recent opinion, released Monday, Tennessee Attorney General Slatery predicts that the enactment of House Bill 2414, which merely requires students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their biological gender, will somehow risk the loss of Title IX federal funding to Tennessee schools.
For those unfamiliar, Title IX is a federal program that prohibits schools receiving federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex or forfeit their funding. As Slatery points out, the dictionary definition of “sex” refers to one’s biological/anatomical status, which is consistent with the new bill. But the current administration’s Department of Education rejects this ordinary interpretation of “sex” in favor of one that broadly encompasses one’s subjective feelings about their own sex.
From this Slatery figures that House Bill 2414 would likely violate Title IX. He observes that the DOE has already threatened several schools into compliance for not allowing transgender students in bathrooms and locker rooms of their opposite biological sex. But notably, Slatery ignores the fact that the DOE has lost on that argument in the only two court cases it has brought on the subject.
This glaring omission reveals the over-hyped and yet unsubstantiated fear that the Obama DOE has instilled in our state representatives, even our attorney general. Fear-mongering should not dissuade us from enacting commonsense measures to protect children and women in the name of a misguided social experiment. There is no basis to believe that any court would accept the DOE’s untenable position. And, as Slatery acknowledges, even if a court were to hold House Bill 2414 violative of Title IX, it would give the schools time to bring their programs into compliance before any funding is suspended.
House Bill 2414 is much needed. Because “gender identity” is subjective, there is no way to verify whether an individual claiming the right to use bathrooms and changing rooms of the opposite sex does, in fact, identify as the opposite gender or whether he is a sexual predator. These abuses have already occurred in places like Seattle, where a man used a “progressive” gender identity law to gain access to a women’s locker room and peep on young girls changing. And the University of Toronto recently suspended its unisex bathroom/shower room policy when males used cell phones to videotape their female peers while they showered.
Rather than give into bullying tactics, Tennessee should take a firm stand for common sense, decency, and safety. Our children and women should not have to risk harm in public restrooms, regardless of how one subjectively views his/her own gender.