Tennessee's 2020 Slate of Hate

Tennessee’s 2020 Slate of Hate

Here are the key bills filed that present direct attacks on Tennessee's LGBTQ community that could move in the 2020 state legislative session.

Attacks on transgender youth:

SB2215/HB2576:  This bill interferes with the ability of transgender youth to access gender-affirming healthcare and outrageously labels violations as child abuse.

SB2077/HB1572 and SB1736/HB1689:  These bills prevent transgender youth from participating in school sports according to their gender identity.

SB1499/HB1274:  This bill represents a new twist on the older anti-transgender student bathroom bills. It provides state legal assistance to school districts that adopt anti-transgender student policies.  Filed in 2019.


Attacks on marriage equality:

SB2625/HB2410 and SB2290/HB2310:  These two bills attempt to undo or interrupt marriage equality by establishing a new definition of “secular marriage” and repealing existing Tennessee laws on marriage licensing.

SB1282/HB1369:  The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.  Filed in 2019.


Attacks on the ability of local governments to serve the LGBTQ community:

SB364/HB563:  The Business License to Discriminate bill prevents local governments from favoring companies that have good workplace policies like inclusive non-discrimination.  Filed in 2019.

SB2896/HB2721:  This bill would hinder the ability of public libraries to provide Pride and LGBTQ displays and programming.

How to Help:

1. If you would like to serve as a district captain for our March 3 Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, be in touch at [email protected] .  If you would like to volunteer in other ways, contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected] .

2. If you would like to contribute, go to this link.

Note:  There are additional bills that we are aware of and are tracking that could be used  as weapons against the LGBTQ community.  We will update the slate as we gather more information.  In addition, the adoption discrimination bill has already been signed into law.


From the TN Dept of Health: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

This information is provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health:

Love is on the mind of many during the month of February. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and can serve as the perfect time to start the discussion with the young people in your life about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. 

Dating can be an exciting milestone for teens, but it can sometimes lead to dating violence, both physical and emotional. Nationally 1 in 11 girls and 1 in 15 boys reported dating violence in 2018 (Centers for Disease Control, 2018). One in three teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone they’re in a relationship with before they become an adult. In our state, teens are more likely to experience sexual assault than any other age group (Tennessee Department of Health, 2018). LGBTQ teens are more likely to experience all types of violence, including in their relationships, and have additional barriers to recognizing the dangers and to getting help (CDC, 2018).

Violent partners can be of any gender. They often become jealous easily, have explosive tempers, isolate their partners from friends and families, make false accusations, appear bossy or possessive, and will pressure their partners to do things against their will. Here are additional red flags that a teen is involved in an unhealthy relationship; 

  • Lack of respect: They’ll go along with something even if they don’t think its right, then feel bad about what happens when they’re with their partner. 
  • Controlling behavior: They always need to know where their partner is and what they’re doing. 
  • Feeling jealous most of the time: A little bit of jealousy is normal. A lot of jealousy or allowing jealousy to control what goes on between the two will hurt the relationship.
  • Trying to change the other person’s behavior: “Its my way or no way.” 

Studies show teens who are victims of dating violence are more likely to have problems with school, substance abuse, depression and social experiences. Signs of dating violence often start early. Parents can talk to their kids about healthy relationships in middle school, before they even start dating. Healthy parent-child relationships also lead to more satisfaction in romantic relationships. Adults can start by talking with their children about: 

  • Setting expectations for how they wanted to be treated in relationships 
  • Recognizing when a relationship is unhealthy 
  • Supporting friends dealing with unhealthy relationships 

It is also important for adults to model what healthy relationships look like. When children understand what a healthy relationship is, they are less likely to accept dating violence in their own lives. So, what are the signs of a healthy relationship? In a healthy relationship, people:  

  • Share common interests while having outside friends and social activities 
  • Show respect for one another
  • Make decisions with the goal of helping each other grow into better people
  • Settle disagreements respectfully and peacefully

Teen dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. Teachers, health care providers, social services professionals, and youth-serving organization staff are all in positions to better see and act on teen dating violence warning signs and to connect teens to prevention programming before problems start.  The Tennessee Department of Health’s Rape Prevention and Education program offers training and support for community agencies, schools and sports teams to implement evidence-based prevention programs. These include Coaching Boys into Men, Safe Dates, and Athletes as Leaders. 

Teens in unhealthy or violent relationships are often afraid to ask for help. When individual support is needed, teens can visit Love is Respect or call the hotline (866-331-9474) to learn about how to handle abusive teen dating relationships. Teens can also text “loveis” to 22522 for help on their mobile phone. 

Tennessee's Slate of Hate grows with new anti-trans and marriage bills

The list of bills attacking the LGBTQ community is growing in Tennessee. 

Here are are some of the latest additions:

SB2215/HB2576 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan:  This bill interferes with the ability of parents and physicians to provide gender affirming care to transgender youth, even labeling those involved as child abusers.

SB2625/HB2410 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Ragan:  A bizarre bill that attempts to define secular marriage as marriage between a man and a woman and an attempt to establish secular marriage in Tennessee.  It is another odd approach at undoing marriage equality.  SB2290/HB2310 by Sen. Bowling and Rep. Leatherwood deletes the statute on marriage licensing. These are both efforts to interrupt and eventually undo marriage equality.

Also new this year are two anti-transgender student athlete bills.  One is by Sen. Pody and Rep. Griffey (SB2077/HB1572) and the other is by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Cepicky (SB1736/HB1689).

There is a new bill that increases the likelihood that LGBTQ and Pride displays at public libraries would be censored or curtailed by Sen. Bailey and Rep. Holt (SB2896/HB2721).

Held over from last year are three bills that could still advance:

SB364/HB563 by Sen. Rose and Rep. Zachary:  The Business License to Discriminate bill has already passed the House and could come up in the Senate State & Local Government Committee.

SB1499/HB1274 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Holt:  This is the Tennessee twist on the anti-transgender student bathroom bill.  Instead of setting a blanket, statewide policy for every school, this bill provides legal support to school districts that adopt anti-transgender student bathroom policies.

SB1282/HB1369 by Sen. Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton is the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.

Already passed:

Sadly the adoption discrimination bill that allows public funds to go to adoption/foster care agencies that turn away LGBTQ and other prospective parents because of a religious or moral objection became law in January.

How to Help:

1. We need district captains for the March 3 Advancing Equality Day on the Hill in Nashville.  District captains set up meetings with their own legislators, run those meetings, and report back on those meetings.  If you are interested, be in touch at [email protected] .

2. Volunteer in other ways.  Contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected] if you can help.

3. Make a contribution at this link.



February Calendar: Love vs. the Slate of Hate

Love goes head to head with the Slate of Hate in February.  Get involved at these events:

February 1 in Murfreesboro:  TEP speaking about state legislation at the TFDW meeting

February 2 in Nashville:  Voter Registration Drive at The Lipstick Lounge

February 3 Statewide:  Last day to register to vote if you want to vote in the March 3 Election

February 4 in Nashville:  Advancing Equality Days on the Hill- Part 1

February 5 in Knoxville:  Coffee + Advocacy

February 6 in Dickson:  Advocacy 101

February 11 in Clarksville:  Legislative Update

February 12 Statewide:  First Day of Early Voting.  Click the link to find a map to locate information from your county election commission on times and locations.

February 15 in Knoxville:  The Love Bazaar

February 16 in Memphis:  TEP Gumbo Contest

February 17 in Morristown:  TEP Lakeway Area monthly meeting

February 22 in Murfreesboro:  Biscuits and Ballots: Early Voting in Murfreesboro

And remember that February is Black History Month. Explore the Tennessee LGBTQ and ally connections to Black History Month at this link.

If you would like to volunteer, contact Jeremiah Dameron at [email protected]

To make a contribution to support our work, go to this link.

Uniting for Equality Reception in Nashville on January 15

You're invited to Uniting for Equality, a legislative reception hosted by Nashville CARES, TEP, and the Nashville LGBT Chamber on January 15 from 5pm to 8pm at Hutton Hotel located at 1808 West End Avenue. 

Please, RSVP to Jasper Hendricks at [email protected] or at this link.


TEP December and January Calendar

We've been preparing for the state legislative session for months, but now it's almost upon us.  Join us for these upcoming events.

December 5 in Dickson. TEP Dickson County Holiday Gathering

December 5 in Union City.  The TEP Northwest TN Committee is participating in the Union City Christmas Parade with the "Love is Love" float.

December 6 in Memphis. TEP Shelby County Chair Shahin Samiei is discussing state legislation with the UT-Health Science Center's Unite student group.

December 15 in Cookeville.  TEP will be speaking about state advocacy at a transgender support meeting.

December 16 in Morristown. TEP Lakeway Area Holiday Party.

December 19 in Martin. TEP Northwest TN Holiday Party.

January 9 in Nashville.  Advocacy 101.  Presented with PFLAG Nashville and Tennessee AIDS Advocacy Network.

January 11 in Nashville.  There will be a multi-organization voter registration drive kickoff at Play.  Details coming.

January 13 in Memphis. Advocacy 101 for the Shelby County area.

January 15 in Nashville. Uniting for Equality legislative reception with Nashville CARES and the Nashville LGBT Chamber.

January 16 in Knoxville. The People's State of the State.  This is a Planned Parenthood event. TEP will be on the panel.

January 18 in Murfreesboro. Mass Canvass Power Together Women's March. TEP is a participant in this event. Join thousands of marchers in Rutherford County for a morning of training, lunch, knocking on doors, and ending with a powerful grand rally. More details to come.  Here's a link to TEP's Advocacy 101 session during the event.

January 20 in Morristown. TEP Lakeway Area Committee meeting.

January 23 in Martin. Advocacy 101 for Northwest TN.

January 25 in Nashville.  Voter Registration Drive at Pecker's.

***If you would like to volunteer, contact Jeremiah at [email protected] .

Gathering to support Commissioner Hurst moved to Nov 9 and a note on Free Speech

Media coverage of the racist and homophobic comments of Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst has gone international.  It remains to be seen how the Sevier County Government will respond.

Supporters of Commissioner Hurst seem to think it's an issue of free speech.  In fact, they have organized a rally to support him.  It was scheduled for November 2, but it has now been moved to November 9

Why was the date moved?  According to part of the event description:

"*The rally at Patriot Park has been rescheduled and venue changed*
There's been opposition to the previous rally. A need of permits,security,and hefty insurance claims have surfaced.
*note the date change(a week from initial rally)
*note the time change(4p-6p)
* venue change to undisclosed location by invite only
* invite by PM
*local Reps and speakers
*counter support strategy given at
this masterminds meeting
*description changed from rally to
meeting due to large indoor venue
*heavy carbs and caffeine"

Well, we can't wait to see what the "masterminds" have come up with!

Free Speech:  One thing we know they're thinking about is free speech.  But is calling for the resignation or censure of an elected official a free speech issue?  It certainly is if citizens are intimidated from being able to challenge elected officials on their positions.  Elected officials have a great deal of power to say what they want.  Indeed, they have more of a platform to do so than the average citizen. 

If Commissioner Hurst had, for example, said during a county commission meeting that he proposes closing Dollywood for 10 months of the year and there was an outcry, would anyone think the public outcry was an effort to cut off his free speech?  If Commissioner Hurst decided to call a fellow commissioner a rat during a meeting and the Chair banged the gavel, calling him out of order, would anyone think his free speech rights were the issue? 

What Commissioner Hurst and some of his supporters want is a SPECIAL RIGHT to say whatever they want about race, gender, and sexuality without a response by the public.  But the response will continue.  We'll see you at the Sevier County Commission meeting on November 18.  And you can sign the petition calling for the Commission to censure Commissioner Hurst AND adopt inclusive policies here.

TEP Fall Calendar: Come out for advocacy!

Get involved this Fall! Check out this calendar of opportunities.  Support our work with a contribution at this link. If you would like to volunteer, email us at [email protected] .

October 3 in Dickson.  TEP Dickson County Committee meeting.

October 5 in Nashville. TEP regional leadership retreat.

October 8 in Nashville. Stonewall Bar Mixer and Kickoff.  TEP will make a brief presentation on state legislation at this meeting.

October 9 in Knoxville. TEP Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties Committee meeting.

October 9 and 10 in Nashville. Weathering the Storm: Building Resilience Against Opposition Attacks. TEP is a cosponsor of the event.

October 10 in Nashville. Nashville Watch Party: Presidential Town Hall.  This is a Human Rights Campaign event of which TEP is a co-host.

October 12. Nashville Black Pride Day Party. Visit the TEP table at this event.

October 14 in Murfreesboro. What Just Happened at the Supreme Court.

October 15 in Nashville. Presidential Debate Watch Party. This is a Nashville and Middle TN Indivisible event co-hosted by TEP.

October 15 in Johnson City.  TEP Tri-Cities Coffee and Equality.

October 19 in Jackson.  Jackson Pride Fest.  Visit the TEP table.

October 21 in Morristown.  TEP Lakeway Social.

October 24 in Memphis. TEP speaks at Memphis Area Association of Realtors.

October 24 in Memphis.  TEP speaks at Memphis Stonewall Tigers meeting for LGBTQ History Month.

October 27 in Murfreesboro.  Love Your Neighbor on the Square. This event is produced by Murfreesboro Muslim Youth.  The TEP Foundation via Boro Pride is a sponsor. 

November 1. HotMess Kickball Charity Drag Show at Play.  The show benefits the family of Channing Smith. TEP is proud to be a co-host.

November 4 in Nashville.  Frank Turner: No Man's Land at TPAC.  TEP will have an information table at this event.

November 4 in Memphis. TEP Shelby County November Social

November 6 in Knoxville.  TEP Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties Committee meeting.

November 7 in Dickson.  TEP Dickson County meeting.

November 12 in Knoxville.  Friendsgiving at the UTK Pride Center.  TEP is supporting the event.

November 12 in Baltimore.  Brandon Thomas participated in a national conference on preemption and legislation.

November 17 in Knoxville:  Drag Brunch at Old City Wine Bar. TEP benefits from your ticket purchase.

November 18 in Nashville.  Julia Nunes at The East Room.  TEP will have an information table at this event.

November 18 in Sevierville.  Wear Red against Racism and Homophobia.

November 19 in Martin.  TEP Northwest TN Chair Morgan Robertson speaking to a UT-Martin social work public policy class.

November 20 in Martin.  Transgender Day of Remembrance.  This is a Spectrum event that TEP Northwest TN Chair Morgan Robertson is helping organize.

November 22 in Nashville.  TEP is speaking at the Hume-Fogg Civic Hackathon.

November 22 in Memphis. Before You Leap.  This is an event present by Love Doesn't Hurt. TEP will be speaking.

November 26 in Athens.  TEP is speaking at Tennessee Wesleyan University.

Memphis candidates answer questions on LGBTQ issues

Candidates for Mayor of Memphis, Memphis City Council, and Municipal Court Judge were recently asked to respond to questions on LGBTQ issues.  Here are their responses.  Candidates are listed in alphabetical order within the office category for which they are running. Click each name that takes you to a Google document with their responses. 


Prince Mongo

Tami Sawyer

Jim Strickland


Municipal Judge:

David Pool


City Council District 3:

Patrice Robinson

City Council District 5:

John Marek

City Council District 6:

Perry Bond

City Council District 7:

Jerred Price

City Council Super District 8, Position 1:

JB Smiley, Jr.

City Council Super District 8, Position 3:

Cat Allen

City Council Super District 9, Position 1:

Erika Sugarmon


*Here is a list of all candidates who have qualified for the ballot.

Election Day is October 3.

Celebrate, Reach out: Two weeks of great events

Even in turbulent political times, we can celebrate the strength of Tennessee's LGBTQ community and we can reach out. We are a vibrant part of the fabric of our state.  It's our Tennessee, too!

Join us at these events in Martin, Dickson, Murfreesboro, Kingsport, Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville over the next two weeks.  And if you would like to volunteer, contact us at [email protected] .  We could use some help with our outreach at these festivals.

September 5, 6, 7 in Martin. Tennessee Soybean Festival.  Visit the TEP table at this event.

September 5 in Dickson.  TEP Dickson County meeting.

September 7 in Murfreesboro:  Boro Pride 2019.  This is a TEP Foundation program and event.

September 7 in Kingsport:  TriPride.  Visit the TEP table.

September 7 in Memphis:  Memphis Public Libraries Pride Kickoff. Visit the TEP table at this event.

September 10 in Memphis:  LGBTQ+ Town Hall with Tami Sawyer.  Presented with OUTMemphis.

September 12 in Knoxville:  Queer the Vote: Silent Disco.

September 12 in Martin:  TEP Northwest TN Committee meeting.

September 12 in Memphis:  LGBTQ+ Town Hall with Lemichael Wilson.  Presented with OUTMemphis.

September 14 in Nashville:  Outloud Music Festival.  Visit the TEP table at this event.

September 14 in Memphis:  Cooper-Young Festival.  Visit the TEP table at this event.

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