TEP Legislative Watch 2022

2022 may set a record for the number of discriminatory bills affecting Tennessee's LGBTQ community. There are also some positive bills to track this year. For questions, additions, or corrections, contact us at [email protected] . This list is a first draft; bills may be added or removed as the legislative session continues.

Note: The language used to describe each bill comes from the General Assembly's legislative summary.

Bills from 2021 that could move in the 2022 session

SB562/HB233 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Leatherwood

As introduced, deletes statutes on marriage licensing and ceremonies; limits the jurisdiction of circuit courts and chancery courts in cases involving the definition of common law marriage to the principles of common law marriage. Deferred to summer study.

SB193/HB372 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Casada

As introduced, prohibits a government entity from requiring an employee of the entity to attend or participate in a training, seminar, or continuing education which the employee objects to on the basis of the person's morals, ethics, values, or religious beliefs. Taken off notice on March 17, 2021.

SB657/HB578 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to prepubescent minors; prohibits the provision of sexual identity change therapy to minors who have entered puberty unless a parent or guardian has written recommendations for the therapy from at least three physicians; punishes violations as child abuse; designates violations by healthcare professionals as professional misconduct.  Deferred to Special Calendar to be Published with Final Calendar in Health Committee.

SB1216/HB800 by Sen. Niceley and Rep. Griffey

As introduced, prohibits the state textbook and instructional materials quality commission from recommending or listing, the state board of education from approving for local adoption or from granting a waiver for, and LEAs and public charter schools from adopting or using textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles. Assigned to Senate General Subcommittee on March 23, 2022.

SB1238/HB1177 by Sen. Pody and Rep. J. Sexton

As introduced, specifies, for the offense of observation without consent, that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy from members of the opposite sex in a single-sex multi-person use bathroom, locker room, dressing room or shower; defines a person's sex as the sex listed on the person's birth certificate and makes other related changes. Has not moved in 2022.

SB659/HB1535 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Weaver

As introduced, prohibits teachers from using supplemental materials that are not approved by the state board. Failed in Senate Education Committee on February 23, 2022.

New constructive bills in the 2022 session

SB2066/HB2257 by Sen. Campbell and Rep. Harris

As introduced, authorizes an applicant who files a petition for a name change and who reasonably believes that publication of the petition would result in harassment, embarrassment, or abuse of the applicant to file the petition under seal and use a pseudonym for publication purposes. Failed in Senate Judiciary Committee on March 22, 2022.

SB2603/HB2691 by Sen. Campbell and Rep. G. Johnson

As introduced, allows amendments of birth certificates to reflect the individual's gender identity. Failed in House Health Subcommittee on March 22, 2022.

New bills in the 2022 session that are directly discriminatory or could have discriminatory implications

SB2696/HB2835 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, enacts the “Youth Health Protection Act.” Assigned to Senate General Subcommittee on March 9, 2022.

HB1758 by Rep. Ragan

As introduced, prohibits healthcare providers from providing medical treatment to minors without parental consent; provides exceptions for minors seeking treatment under certain conditions. WITHDRAWN

SB1861/HB1895 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, requires the commissioner of education to withhold a portion of the state education finance funds that an LEA is otherwise eligible to receive if the LEA fails or refuses to determine a student's gender, for purposes of participation in school sports, by the student's sex at the time of birth; exempts an LEA that fails or refuses to determine a student's gender, for purposes of participation in school sports, by the student's sex at the time of birth if the LEA's failure or refusal to do so is required by a court or other legally binding order. Signed into law by the Governor.

SB2153/HB2316 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, prohibits males from participating in public higher education sports that are designated for females; creates a cause of action for violations that deprive a student of an athletic opportunity or that cause direct or indirect harm to a student at the middle school, high school, or postsecondary level. Passed by both House and Senate, heading to the Governor for his action.

SB1862/HB1894 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, prohibits males from participating in public higher education sports that are designated for females; creates a cause of action for violations that deprive a student of an athletic opportunity or that cause direct or indirect harm to a student at the middle school, high school, or postsecondary level. WITHDRAWN

SB2777/HB2633 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Cochran

As introduced, specifies that a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA is not required to refer to a student using the student's preferred pronoun if the pronoun does not align with the student's biological sex; insulates a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA from civil liability and adverse employment action for referring to a student using the pronoun aligned with the student's biological sex instead of the student's preferred pronoun. Passed House on April 25, 2022, on notice in Senate Finance on April 26.

SB2006/HB1723 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Casada

As introduced, requires an LEA's policy on the inspection of school instructional materials by parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in the LEA to allow a student's parent or legal guardian to check out from the student's school one set of the instructional materials used in the student's classroom for a period of no less than 48 hours to allow the parent or legal guardian time to inspect the materials. Assigned to Senate General Subcommittee on March 23, 2022.

SJR862 by Sen. Bowling 

Constitutional Amendments - Proposes an amendment to Article I of the Constitution of Tennessee to protect fundamental parental rights. No action since January 2022.

SB1944/HB1944 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Cepicky

As introduced, excludes local education agencies, public schools, and employees and private contractors of LEAs or public schools from the exception to certain obscenity offenses if the LEA, public school, employee, or private contractor possesses obscene material that is harmful to minors on public school premises; prohibits an LEA or public school from making obscene materials or materials harmful to minors available to students in the school libraries controlled by the LEA or public school. Deferred to summer study on April 6, 2022.

SB2407/HB2154 by Sen. Johnson and Rep. Lamberth

As introduced, enacts the "Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022"; requires each public school to maintain, and post on the school's website, a list of the materials in the school's library collection; requires each local board of education and public charter school governing body to adopt a policy to establish procedures for the development and review of school library collections. Signed by the Governor.

SB2360/HB2451 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Weaver

As introduced, enacts the "Parent Bill of Rights Act," which requires LEAs to permit parents to have access to certain information, including the names of instructors, titles available in the school library, teacher manuals, and curriculum; requires parents to provide written consent before a student can participate in any extracurricular activity, family life lesson, field trip, school assembly, or guest speaker event; prohibits certain healthcare practitioners from providing medical treatment to a minor without parental consent or an appropriate court order. Assigned to Senate General Subcommittee on March 23, 2022.

SB2292/HB2454 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Weaver

As introduced, redefines "obscene" to include material that has educational value; makes various changes to the internet acceptable use policy LEAs are required to adopt; requires providers of digital and online resources to ensure that users cannot access certain obscene material; requires a local board of education to establish a mechanism for parents, legal guardians, or students to report failures of the technology selected by the LEA to filter, block, or otherwise prevent access to pornography or obscenity through online resources and to submit an annual report to the state board of education regarding same. Transmitted to the Governor for his action on April 26, 2022.

SB2283/HB2417 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Smith

As introduced, prohibits employees of, and courses of instruction or units of study at, public institutions of higher education from compelling or addressing certain tenets; creates a cause of action and loss of state funding for violations. Taken off notice on February 22, 2022.

SB2290/HB2670 by Sen. Bell and Rep. C. Sexton

As introduced, prohibits a public institution of higher education from taking certain actions with regard to divisive concepts and the ideologies or political viewpoints of students and employees; revises the duties of an institution's employees whose primary duties include diversity; requires each institution to conduct a survey of its students and employees to assess the campus climate with regard to diversity of thought and the respondents' comfort level in speaking freely on campus and to publish the results on the institution's website. Signed by the Governor.

SB2440/HB2569 by Sen. Bell and Rep. Ragan

As introduced, prohibits the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, an individual or group based on the individual's or group's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of any aspect of public employment, public education, or public contracting. Assigned to General Subcommittee on March 23. 2022.

SB2298/HB2313 by Sen. Pody/Rep. Griffey

As introduced, prohibits a person from requiring an individual, employee, or applicant for employment to complete or participate in training, orientation, or any other instructional or informational program that promotes certain discriminatory concepts. Deferred to summer study on February 23, 2022.

HB2584 by Rep. Leatherwood

As introduced, redefines secondary education from including grades seven through 12 to including grades nine through 12. This bill has no Senate sponsor at this time. We are tracking it because of the effect on GSAs in public schools.

 

 

 

 

 


Legislation attacking student pronouns filed

Today Rep. Cochran filed HB2633. According to the legislative summary, the bill "specifies that a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA is not required to refer to a student using the student's preferred pronoun if the pronoun does not align with the student's biological sex; insulates a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA from civil liability and adverse employment action for referring to a student using the pronoun aligned with the student's biological sex instead of the student's preferred pronoun."

In other words, this bill protects school personnel who discriminate against transgender and non-binary students. Research shows that school policies that affirm a student's gender identity yield better health and academic outcomes.


Putting a target on school libraries in Tennessee

There has been a growing effort to label content about race, sexuality, and gender in school libraries as obscene and remove it from the shelves. See this compelling piece from The 19th.

Tennessee now joins the ranks of states where these battles will rage in 2022. Rep. Scott Cepicky has filed HB1944, which, according to the official summary, "excludes local education agencies, public schools, and employees and private contractors of LEAs or public schools from the exception to certain obscenity offenses if the LEA, public school, employee, or private contractor possesses obscene material that is harmful to minors on public school premises; prohibits an LEA or public school from making obscene materials or materials harmful to minors available to students in the school libraries controlled by the LEA or public school."

We will have to watch to see how the discussion unfolds about what counts as obscene. But if action around the country is any guide, LGBTQ materials are among the targets.

January 31 update: Rep. Willaim Lamberth has filed HB2154. Here's the summary: "As introduced, enacts the 'Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022'; requires each public school to maintain, and post on the school's website, a list of the materials in the school's library collection; requires each local board of education and public charter school governing body to adopt a policy to establish procedures for the development and review of school library collections." 


New anti-trans athlete bills filed

The Tennessee General Assembly's new session has just started and, to no one's surprise, discriminatory bills are back.

There are a number of bills we are already watching, but there are two new anti-transgender student athlete bills that were filed today.

HB1894 and HB1895 by Rep. John Ragan would bar trans women and girls from participating in women and girls' athletics and would punish school districts that refused to comply. 

We will need everyone's help to fight discriminatory legislation this year. If you would like to volunteer as a district captain, use this quick form to let us know. District captains meet with their own legislators to advocate for the LGBTQ community.

February 1 update: Yesterday HB1894 was withdrawn. But it has been refiled as SB2153/HB2316 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Ragan.


Notes from the TN Dept of Health: June and the history of the fight against HIV

This information in this post was written by and is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

For people living with, affected by, or working to fight HIV, June is a month of historical and personal significance. June 5, 1981 was the day when the first five cases of what would later be known as AIDS were reported in the United States. Every year on June 5th, people around the world celebrate HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day. On June 27, 1982 the first “safer sex” pamphlet in response to the AIDS epidemic was created by a gay activist group in San Francisco and distributed at the International Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade. June 27th is now recognized as National HIV Testing Day, which is both a day when many people get their annual HIV test and when staff and volunteers gear up to run large outreach and testing events. 

June is a month when our HIV history and present collide, making it an ideal time to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we are going. This year, the theme for HIV Long Term Survivors’ Day was “What Now?” In four decades, a lot has changed. 

Treatment for HIV has certainly come a long way. What started as palliative care to make people comfortable with a disease without a name is now treatment that is so effective, people can live with HIV without symptoms and without fear of passing it to another person during sex. 

“The science is clear. Numerous studies have shown that people living with HIV who take their medications as prescribed and get and keep and undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV.” - Pamela Talley, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis section at Tennessee Department of Health, World AIDS Day 2019 Press Release

Treatment has evolved significantly, becoming easier to take over time. What was many pills a day in a complicated regimen is now one pill a day for many people. For people new to living with HIV, there is a network of professional case managers, health care providers, and community-based organization staff trained to help arrange medical appointments, assist in the transition to daily medication, and support people in sharing their status with friends and loved ones. 

Access to treatment has expanded dramatically in the four decades since we first discovered HIV. The Ryan White Care Act was first passed into law in 1990 and has grown significantly since then to include medical care and other services to help people living with HIV achieve and sustain an undetectable viral load for years at a time. Ryan White Part B funds the Insurance Assistance Program, which allows eligible people living with HIV access to medical coverage for their whole health---not just their HIV. Through the Insurance Assistance Program, people living with HIV who qualify for Ryan White can pick from a set of insurance coverage options and then Ryan White will help cover the costs of their premium, copays, and deductible. This allows people living with HIV to access their healthcare the same way other Americans do, supports other aspects of their health, and gives them additional privacy related to their health. For Tennessee residents who receive Ryan White Part B benefits, the special enrollment period for the Insurance Assistance Program runs until August 15th. Click here for more information or ask your Ryan White Part B case manager.   

As we approach National HIV Testing Day (June 27) we can all celebrate how much has changed when it comes to getting an HIV test. People who want to know their HIV status can find a provider in their area who will give them a no-cost rapid HIV test and support if the result is positive. Many of these providers are now able to give people the choice to either take a rapid test in the office, or to take a test with them to do in the privacy of their own home. While HIV tests used to mean weeks of waiting on a result, rapid tests can now tell a person their HIV status in 20 minutes or less. For those people looking to celebrate National HIV Testing Day with others at an event, signing up for the statewide HIV weekly email and following testing providers on social media are great ways to learn more about upcoming celebrations.

How we think about HIV has changed dramatically in the four decades since we named it. AIDS was an unknown syndrome, but is now known, screened for, and treated worldwide. HIV was once a death sentence but is now a chronic condition. HIV was an illness people were so afraid of sharing that receiving a diagnosis meant a fundamental life change. It is now a part of a person’s health that does not stop them from starting new relationships, having children, and making future plans. It was once the case that people living with HIV could receive world class treatment for it but still not have access to care for their other health concerns. It is now a health issue that people can manage while getting access to standard health insurance coverage. A person’s HIV status was a question that required searching through providers to make an appointment for a test that would take weeks to yield a result, but is now as easy as signing up for a rapid test at a local agency or picking up a test to take at home. 

This June as many of us get our vaccines and leave our homes to enjoy Pride events and gatherings with friends and family, we can all take some pride in the part we’ve played in changing what it means to live with HIV in Tennessee. 


Notes from the TN Dept of Health: U = U and dismantling stigma

The following information was written by and is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

On November 27, 2019, Tennessee Department of Health became one of the first state health departments in the Southern U.S. to join the “Undetectable Equals Untransmittable” (or “U=U”) campaign. The U=U campaign raises awareness about the fact that people living with HIV who stay on treatment and maintain an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus through sex and are much less likely to transmit it through needle-sharing. 

For a person living with HIV, being undetectable means that the amount of HIV virus in their blood is so small that it is “undetectable” to HIV viral load tests. When this happens, the person is incapable of transmitting HIV via sex. This has enormous health benefits for the individual as well. Staying undetectable can help a person living with HIV avoid the health complications from the virus and live a longer, healthier life.

Getting to undetectable status is a health goal for people living with HIV. To achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, people need consistent access to treatment without fear. The fear that stigma creates can build barriers between medical providers and their clients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define stigma as “discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation.” This identifiable group of people can be a group of people who all share the experience of living with a health condition. For people living with HIV, stigmatization is a shared fear and, unfortunately, one grounded in reality.

According to Needs Assessment 2020 Special Study conducted by the Tennessee Community HIV/AIDS Partnership, one out of every three people living with HIV in Tennessee lives with the fear that their HIV status may be discovered by someone living in their community (Tennessee Community HIV/AIDS Partnership. "Needs Assessment Special Study). One in five experienced stigma related to their HIV status while receiving medical services

In deep dive interviews, people living with HIV in Tennessee reported choosing and staying with one provider and/or avoiding medical treatment altogether to avoid potential HIV stigma. Stories about stigma demonstrated that people living with HIV might be stigmatized because of their HIV status and because of their race, gender, and sexual orientation. 

One important dimension of stigma is that it provokes a fear response where fear is not needed or helpful. Study respondents described fear from people who lived in their community and from medical professionals in situations where HIV transmission was not possible. This fear made them more likely to limit their own options for treatment and in some cases served as a barrier to treatment itself. 

In 2021, we understand that treatment is a key cornerstone of prevention. Our state is healthier when everyone living with HIV has easy, uninterrupted access to treatment. Over the years, many barriers to such access have been dismantled in Tennessee; people living with HIV can get treatment even if they are uninsured and cannot afford it through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. To help people get access to HIV treatment early and stay in care, services like transportation, housing, and psychosocial support are in place. Expert case managers are available to help people new to this network of support navigate to the services they need. But even with all of those resources, stigma can make a person living with HIV think twice about taking advantage of them. 

Ensuring that all Tennesseans, not just people living with HIV, understand that HIV treatment substantially reduces the risk of transmission fights stigma. When people living with HIV take their medications as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load, their efforts benefit their personal health and protect their community. 

All of us, whether we live with HIV or not, can play a role in dismantling stigma. If you or someone you love is living with HIV, here are some resources you can use to help a person achieve undetectable and untransmittable status:

 

  • Get into care (if you aren’t in care already) by connecting with a Ryan White Medical Case Manager. A case manager can tell you whether or not you qualify for Ryan White services and can answer any questions you have about your diagnosis and your options. Click here to find a case manager near you.

 

  • Get back into care after a lapse, a move, or any other type of care interruption with the help of an Early Intervention Services (EIS) specialist or a Re-engagement specialist. Click here to read more about EIS services in Tennessee or here to connect with a Re-engagement specialist.

 

  • Identify and overcome your barriers to daily medication. Maintaining an undetectable viral load requires people living with HIV to stay on a daily medication regimen. If that is something you haven’t had to do before, it can be challenging. Identify what makes it hard to take your medication daily and share your concerns with your case manager and/or medical provider. Click here to learn more about all of the supportive services Ryan White offers to help people maintain stable access to care. 

 

  • Set up a system of social support. Living with HIV can be challenging, especially if you are living in fear that people will discover your health status. One way to fight this fear is by telling the people in your life about your health. Planning a disclosure can be difficult, but there are lots of professionals and peers in Tennessee that can help. Your Ryan White medical case manager can support you in planning a disclosure. For people new to living with HIV, Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Access to Services (ARTAS) linkage coordinators can help you get into care and plan a first disclosure. Healthy Relationships is a series of workshops for people new to living with HIV that uses a peer model to help people get comfortable and good at talking about their HIV status. Click here for more information about ARTAS and Healthy Relationships.

HIV stigma has its roots in a time when we didn’t know what HIV was, how it spread, or how to treat it. Stigma alienates people living with HIV and is often part of a person’s thought process when considering care. No one should be afraid to do something good for their health, especially when it will also benefit their community. We all have a role to play in eliminating HIV stigma in our communities. Spread the word about U=U, bring up HIV and educate your friends and family, and spread the word about all of the resources people living with HIV in Tennessee have to maintain their health.

 


Contact Governor Lee as dangerous anti-trans bills head to his desk

As of May 18, Governor Lee has now signed all three of these anti-trans bills, in addition to his earlier signing of the anti-trans student athlete bill and the bill that allows parents to opt their children out of sexual orientation/gender identity curriculum in public schools.

HB1233 is an anti-transgender student bathroom bill that offers trans students separate and unequal accommodations in our public schools. Tennessee could be the only state this year to enact a bathroom bill this year. (signed into law)

HB1182 is the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate bill that applies to businesses and organizations that have a trans-inclusive policy for multi-person restrooms. The bill requires them to put up a demeaning sign about biological sex. It could lead to increased policing of trans people in restrooms and aggression towards trans-inclusive businesses. (signed into law)

SB126 is a bill that puts into the Tennessee Code standards for gender-affirming care for trans youth. Why is that a bad idea? It is discriminatory because we don’t normally put standards of care into the law and if the standard of care changes based on research, we shouldn’t have to amend the law. It could also invite more restrictive amendments in future legislative sessions. (signed into law)

Contact Governor Lee today at 615-741-2001 and let him know your views on anti-transgender legislation.

Email Option:  You can also send him an email through his contact form at https://www.tn.gov/governor/contact-us.html .

 


Take action on bills moving week of May 3

Make your voice heard on bills moving the week of May 3 as the Legislature prepares to adjourn.

May 3

*HB1027, the bill regulating gender-affirming care for transgender youth, is on the House floor Monday evening.

-Use this easy form to contact your member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.  If you have already sent your message, share the link with friends.

-If you want to compose a personal email or voice mail for your state representative, but don't know who that is, be in touch at [email protected] any time before Monday at 10 a.m. Central Time.  We will help you with your message and with the contact information.  Put your street address and Zip code in the email. 

Near Future

-Calls to the Governor:  Several bills are heading to the Governor or on his desk.  Call Governor Lee at 615-741-2001, leave a message asking him to veto SB1229/HB529 (parent opt-out bill), SB1367/HB1223 (anti-trans student bathroom bill), and SB1224/HB1182 (anti-trans bathroom sign mandate bill).

-Letters to the Editor:  If you want to write a letter to the editor of your local paper (especially outside Nashville), and you need some guidance, reach out any time at [email protected] and let us know the name of your newspaper. We could use some letters urging the Governor to veto these bills. This weekend is a great time to start.


Take action on discriminatory bills moving week of April 26

Discriminatory bills continue to advance. Take action and fight back with the steps below.

*If you want to have a phone meeting with your state senator and/or your state representative the week of April 26, contact us at [email protected] and we will help you get it set up and prepare you with an issue brief.

April 26

EVENTQuick Zoom Phone Bank on the Bad Bills

April 26 or April 27

*HB1027, the bill regulating gender-affirming care for trans youth, is up for a vote in House Government Operations Committee. Note: The information on the bill's page on the Legislature's web site says that it is up for a vote on April 27, but the House Government Operations Committee meeting is listed for April 26.  UPDATE:  The Government Operations Committee did approve the bill on April 26 and it is headed to the House floor soon.

-Use this easy form to contact your member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Indefinite Date

*SB1224, the anti-transgender sign mandate bill, will be on the Senate floor soon.

 -Use this easy form to send an email to your state senator and urge them to vote NO.

Note: There are additional bills that could be added to the calendar. If they are put on the calendar, we will add more campaigns.


Take action on dangerous bills moving the week of April 19

More damaging bills are getting closer to passing. Take action on these bills moving the week of April 19.

Remember that the parent opt-out bill is heading to the Governor for his signature, so call him. Tell Governor Lee Veto SB1229/HB529 Parent Opt-out bill for LGBTQ curriculum at 615-741-2001.

Monday, April 19

Event:  Zoom phone bank against discriminatory bills at 6 p.m. Central Time.

*SB1367/HB1233, the anti-transgender student bathroom 2.0 bill, is up for floor votes in the Senate and House.

-Use this easy form to send an email to your own state senator and state representative. Feel free to add your own message.

Tuesday, April 20 (possibly Wednesday, April 21)

*SB1224, the anti-transgender bathroom sign mandate, is back in Senate Judiciary Committee.

-Use this easy form to send an email to all the committee members. Feel free to add your own message.

-Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the scripts and office numbers at this link.

Indefinite Date

*HB1027, the caption bill amended to regulate gender-affirming care for trans youth, will be up for a vote in the House Government Operations Committee soon.

-Leave phone messages with the members of the committee using the scripts and office numbers at this link.



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