by Joan Allison, Focus® Managing Editor (she/her); edited by Shahin Samiei, MPH (he/his)
Shelby County Committee Chair, Tennessee Equality Project (email@example.com)
Each year, certain legislators take it upon themselves to propose hateful bills that would impact LGBTQ+ persons.
Fortunately, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is on the case to ensure equal protections and liberties for everyone in the state. As of this issue’s publication date, TEP lists seven bills that are on the ‘Slate of Hate’:
SB228/HB3 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Cepicky: This bill repeats the effort to prevent transgender students from participating in high school and middle school sports. It ties a student’s gender to the original birth certificate. The “whereas” clauses attempt to pit transgender people against women’s sports.
SB562/HB233 by Sen. Bowling Rep. Leatherwood: This bill appears to be a caption bill that would eventually carry explicitly anti-marriage equality language. It pertains to marriage licensing and definitions.
SB193/HB372 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Casada: This bill allows employees of state or local government (which also includes public universities and colleges) to skip training or seminars that conflict with their values or religious beliefs. We believe that the bill provides a way of undermining LGBTQ- inclusive training sessions and seminars offered by government entities.
HB529 by Rep. Moody: This bill would require public schools to notify parents before offering any curriculum about sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill allows parents to opt their children out of such instruction.
SB657/HB578 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan: This bill criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
HB800 by Rep. Griffey: This bill censors LGBTQ content in public school textbooks and instructional materials. It’s an updated version of the old “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
HB1177 by Rep. Sexton: This legislation is an anti-transgender “bathroom” bill.
As you can imagine, if passed, these bills would have a negative health impact on the LGBTQ+ community.
- Marginalization stressors negatively affect health outcomes.
- LGBTQ populations face increased risks of violence, depression, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and STI incidence/ prevalence.
- Discrimination negatively impacts access to healthcare, stable employment, and protective factors to the above negative outcomes.
- Early research indicates LGBTQ community faces worse outcomes from COVID-19, in part due to marginalization.
How can you help?
• Get involved! TEP needs district captains who will advocate directly with elected officials at (virtual) Advancing Equality Day on the Hill on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Sign up by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Stay informed: Know the issues – TEP can help!
• Be empowered to act: You are the expert. You will undoubtedly teach your elected officials about the issues
• Do what you can, where you can, how you can. We all play a role in the equality movement
• Make connections – change happens collectively
• Sign up to volunteer at events (when they can happen…)
• Cooper-Young Farmers Market
• Cooper-Young Fest
• Academic and community settings
• Other tabling, awareness, and outreach events as they can happen
• Give money: Make a one-time or recurring donations at tnep.org
• Give your time to advocate:
• Email email@example.com for outreach opportunities
• Raise awareness on issues & elections via your networks (social media, friends, & others)
• Talk with your legislators! (you know more than they do!)
• Find who your state-level legislators are at capitol.tn.gov
• Build a relationship with their administrative assistants (gatekeepers). They are responsible for conveying your messages & scheduling meetings/calls.
• Be kind, be patient, be persistent.
Mark your calendars! The legislative session has started; more discriminatory legislation could have been filed by the time you read this. TEP needs your help. Help on March 2 by volunteering as a district captain (info above). Connect with TEP (info below) to help engage with our advocacy campaigns before and after Advancing Equality Day.
CONNECT WITH TEP:
Web: tnep.org (to sign up for email list)
Facebook: Tennessee Equality Project
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR LGBTQ+ PERSONS:
Tennessee State Capitol: https://capitol.tn.gov
SAGE (elder advocacy/services): https://www.sageusa.org/
Diverse Elders Coalition: https://www.diverseelders.org/
The Trevor Project (mental health/suicide hotline for 25&under): https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
GOOD RESOURCES/FURTHER READINGS ABOUT SUICIDE PREVENTION AND ETIOLOGY OF LGBTQ MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains the LGBTQI issues in simple terms. Great for health providers too!