Tennessee’s roadside sign may welcome you, but their anti-LGBTQ actions say otherwise.

Tennessee has made some pretty negative headlines in recent weeks for their statewide anti-LGBTQ developments. These changes include a senate bill, a house bill and the House of Republicans’ refusal to honor T.J. Osborne on the basis of his sexuality. North Carolina’s western neighbor, Tennessee’s decisions may prompt other Republican-controlled southern states to adopt similar stances. 

Senate Bill 1229 (SB 1229) states that schools may no longer educate students on sexual orientation or gender identities. Parents of enrolled students will have to be notified thirty days before any LGBTQ-related conversations can take place at school. This bill will also keep students whose parents have opted them out of this portion of their curriculum from learning about literature and history related to the LGBTQ community. 

Democratic lawmakers, like Representative Bob Freeman, have said that LGBTQ students could be further bullied as a result of this education. Republican Representatives like Terri Lynn Weaver, on the other hand, claim the bill is not meant to harm any children, but rather to “put the focus back on parents.”

If passed, House Bill 1182 (HB 1182) will single out transgender people by requiring that businesses put up signs to indicate that either biological sex will be allowed in any restroom, in what is a thinly-veiled attempt to generate even more anti-trans sentiment, 

“Denying transgender people the ability to access a bathroom consistent with their gender identity is degrading and dehumanizing,” says Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “By advancing this bill, the Tennessee state legislature is putting the health and safety of transgender Tennesseans at risk.”

After coming out as gay in February, T. J. Osborne, a member of the country duo the Brothers Osborne, became the only openly gay country singer signed to a major country music label. Having spent the majority of his life in Tennessee, Osborne could not believe the place he considered home would dismiss his music and achievements so easily.

The state Senate unanimously passed the resolution to honor Osborne, only for Representative Jeremy Faison to immediately block this decision. As the chair of the House of Republican Caucus, Faison has been cited as saying “we have some concerns” in reference to Osborne’s commendation.

Fellow country musicians have spoken out on Osborne’s behalf. Kacey Musgraves Tweeted, “Massively disappointed in TN House Republicans for blocking my friend @TJOsborne for being honored because HE’S GAY!?.” Until this point, Osborne’s coming out was met with excitement from his fans as well as his friends. Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Chely Wright all Tweeted their support following his announcement.

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