Welcome to Tennessee, where LGBTQ youth are legally discriminated against in the public school system. (Photo Credit: Flickr)

House Bill 1233 (HB 1233, also called the Tennessee Accommodations for All Children Act) is one of the nearly half-dozen homophobic and transphobic laws that have been introduced in Tennessee this year, with students the target of each new piece of legislation. Not surprisingly, some parents are fighting back against this wave of anti-LGBTQ bills. HB 1233, which has been in effect since July, 2021, requires schools to enforce transgender-free bathrooms. 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is spearheading a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee. One such impacted student is Ariel, a six-year-old transgender girl. “A lot can happen in the bathroom because it is such a private location,” says Ariel’s mother, who is only identified as Julie B. in court documents. “There’s not any adult supervision in there.” 

A 14-year-old transgender boy has also felt the stigma surrounding his gender, saying that he does not drink water at school for fear that he will have to use the restroom. He has confirmed that teachers have told him to use the single-stall faculty bathroom. The act of going to an off-limits space — in effect — is actively outing him to his peers. 

The lawsuit argues that HB 1233 infringes upon Title IX. Alphonso David, President of HRC, explains: “Courts have time and again ruled against these dangerous and discriminatory laws and we are going to fight … to strike down this one, and protect the civil rights of transgender and non-binary young people.” 

Of the other new laws in Tennessee, House Bill 529 (HB 529) would allow students’ parents to opt out of lessons or in-school discussions regarding LGBTQ history. “Our kids are young and impressionable, and what we allow in their minds is important,” Republican Representative Ryan Williams says of the bill and his belief in the importance of schools informing parents of LGBTQ classroom content 30 days ahead of time. 

Citizens of Tennessee and HRC believe these bills were created as a way to police the existence of LGBTQ youth and lessen access to gender-affirming restrooms, as well as educational representation. 

Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like thisgive a regular or one-time donation today.