April 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Tenn. AG warns anti-trans bill could cost state $1 billion
Herbert Slatery, gay news, Washington Blade

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III (Photo public domain)

The top lawyer for Tennessee is warning his state enactment of an anti-trans “papers to pee” bathroom bill “could very well” result in a loss of federal funding for the state.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbery Slattery III, a Republican, offered in an opinion Monday his views the measure could cost the state funding under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“In sum, if a transgender student is required by a school district in Tennessee to use a restroom or locker room facility that is consistent with his or her anatomical gender rather than his or her gender expression or gender identity, and if that student files a complaint, DOE, applying its current interpretation of Title IX, will almost certainly require the school district to permit the student access to the facility consistent with his or her gender expression, and refusal to do so could very well result in loss of federal funding — at least until DOE’s interpretation is overruled by authoritative and binding judicial decision,” Slattery writes.

Much like the anti-LGBT law House Bill 2 in North Carolina, HB 2414 would prohibit transgender students in Tennessee from using public restrooms in schools consistent with the gender identity. Although the Tennessee bill was once believed dead, a House committee approved the bill last week and it remains pending before the legislature.

According to the Williams Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles, passage of the law could result in loss of federal educational funding of up to $1.2 billion annually as a result of Title IX violations. The Obama administration has interpreted the prohibition on gender discrimination under Title IX to apply to transgender students.

In a Q&A portion of the opinion, Slattery states affirmatively HB 2414 poses a risk of violation under Title IX and “a public school district or institution of higher learning that implements that law will be putting its Title IX funding at risk, because a recipient of federal funding that discriminates in violation of Title IX may lose its federal funding.”

Matt McTighe, executive director of the LGBT group Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement Tennessee lawmakers said take heed of the attorney general’s warning.

“Discriminatory gender inspection bills like those being forced through the Tennessee legislature not only put school funding at risk and open schools up to legal problems, but they are bad for the economy,” McTighe said. “Businesses owners want to live and work in states where they, their employees, families and customers can live and work without fear of discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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