Tennessee Attorney General Herbert
Slatery said on Monday that a proposed transgender bill would “almost
certainly” violate Title IX, possibly costing the state millions of
dollars in federal funding.
House Bill 2414 seeks to prohibit
students in public institutions from using the bathroom that does not
conform to their gender at birth.
In 2014, the Department of Education
made clear that Title IX protections extend to transgender students.
“Title IX's sex discrimination prohibitions extend to claims of
discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to
stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” the
agency's Office for Civil Rights wrote.
According to The
Tennessean, Tennessee receives about $3 billion a year in
federal funding for public education.
“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,” Slatery wrote.
Slatery was asked to weigh in on the
proposed legislation by two state representatives, Democrat Mike
Stewart and Republican Harry Brooks.
“The fact that the attorney general
has recognized that this will result in significantly reduced federal
funds for the state of Tennessee should put an end to the discussion
about this bill,” Stewart said.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT advocate, said in a statement that it hopes
Slatery's opinion will sway lawmakers to drop the bill.
“Any compassionate person can see how
cruel this legislation targeting transgender children is. But this
warning from the state’s top lawyer also makes clear that the
terrible bill puts millions of federal education dollars in peril,
risking the quality of education received by every single student
attending Tennessee’s public schools,” said JoDee Winterhof,
senior vice president of policy and political affairs at HRC.