Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed a novel "bathroom bill" into law that seeks to accomplish the goal of banning transgender kids from the bathroom without directly banning them.
In what may be an attempt to survive a court challenge with clever legal language, the new bill says families of students can claim damages against a school if they allow any transgender person to use their facilities.
Under the bathroom measure, a student, parent or employee could sue in an effort to claim monetary damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a transgender person into the bathroom or locker room when others are in there. They also could take legal action if required to stay in the same sleeping quarters as a member of the opposite sex at birth, unless that person is a family member.
The proposal says schools must try to offer a bathroom or changing facility that is single-occupancy or that is for employees if a student or employee “desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility” designated for their sex at birth.
Lee, who is up for reelection next year, has said the bill promotes “equality in bathrooms,” despite the prohibition against transgender people using multi-person facilities that don’t align with their sex at birth.
This is a very cowardly attempt to place the legal and moral responsibility for litigating bathroom use on the school itself. Each school will have to develop its own policy for policing or prohibiting bathroom use. The state is telling schools they have to make their own choice but only giving them one choice to make. It's a de facto ban.
The idea that schools must closely monitor how many people are inside a bathroom at any given time and closely scrutinize who is entering them is obviously absurd. And what if the transgender person using the bathroom is one of the parents? What if it's a teacher? What if it's an administrator? How do you handle large school functions where people may be using bathrooms in large groups? We don't wear name tags, you know? But maybe that will be the next law.
It's legally, morally, and even logistically ridiculous.
It's also exhausting, to be honest, to contend with such transparently absurd attempts at social repression on a weekly basis. It's all just so stupid.