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Politics

Transgender restroom bill revived by Tennessee House panel

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — A bill requiring students to use restrooms matching their gender at birth is advancing again in the Tennessee House after being revived in committee.

The House Education Committee voted 8-4 Wednesday to reverse an earlier decision to sideline the bill.

The measure’s supporters say the bill is needed to protect children who might otherwise be forced to share a restroom with a person of the opposite sex. Detractors say the bill would discriminate against transgender students.

Republican Rep. Mark White of Germantown made the earlier motion to sideline the bill.

“I called a lot of teachers and principals and I said, ‘How are you handling this?’ And they said, ‘We’re taking care of it.’ I said, ‘Do we need to pass a state law?’ They said, “Please don’t, you’re only going to tie our hands and we’re dealing with this.'”

Fellow Republican Rick Womick of Rockvale agreed that local schools are handling the problem, but still believes the legislation is necessary. Rep. Womick expressed his concerns in a testy exchange with Hedy Weinberg of the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I’ve talked to a lot of parents. There’s not a problem. The local schools are handling this at the local level with parents and teachers and counselors. We don’t need the likes of the ACLU coming in here and dictating otherwise and threatening them with lawsuits.”

Following discussion the Committee approved the measure. It goes next to the House Finance Committee. The companion bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.