What is happening this week with discriminatory bills?

Yesterday there was an extensive discussion of the anti-transgender bathroom bill in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, but they fortunately didn't seem to have the votes to pass it at that time.  So there may be amendments and the bill will be back on Wednesday, March 21.  The State Government Subcommittee didn't get to the Business License to Discriminate bill, so it is also back on the calendar for March 21.

Please, help spread the word that we need people to attend these hearings in red to show opposition.  Both take place at 1:30 on Wednesday at the Cordell Hull Building in downtown Nashville.  RSVP at the link.  If you can't make it, please share the link with friends.  Since the media is largely not covering these bills yet, we have found that not many people know the bills are moving.  We will have to get word out ourselves.

The clergy letter in opposition to the anti-transgender bathroom bill is still growing.  If you are clergy resident in Tennessee, send me your name and city of residence at [email protected] and we'll add your name.

If you would like to support our legislative work, please consider contributing at the link.

And continue spreading the word about online voter registration in Tennessee at this link.  It grows the power of the equality movement in our state.


Chris Sanders

Executive Director

Prepare for Hate Day on the Hill


Is "Hate Day on the Hill" a thing?  Not officially, but there are two anti-LGBTQ bills up for consideration on March 14.  The new anti-transgender bathroom bill will be up for consideration in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee and the Business License to Discriminate bill is up for discussion in the State Government Subcommittee. 

Both subcommittees begin at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.

How can you help?

First, if you are able to attend the subcommittee meetings at the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville, please, RSVP here

Second, use the form at this link to contact the Civil Justice Subcommittee to oppose the anti-transgender bathroom bill.  You can contact the State Government Subcommittee in opposition to the Business License to Discriminate bill at this link.

Third, if you know Tennessee based clergy who might sign the letter against the bathroom bill, ask them to email me at [email protected] with their name and city of residence. 

Fourth, RSVP for the April 3 Advancing Equality Day on the Hill here.  Discriminatory bills may still be moving late in the legislative session.

Consider supporting our legislative work with a $5+ contribution at this link.  If you prefer to make a one-time contribution, you can do so at this link.

Thank you for all your efforts to advance equality and fight discrimination in Tennessee.

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

Tennessee clergy oppose new bathroom bill

Clergy and faith leaders from around Tennessee oppose the new anti-transgender bathroom bill that is up for consideration on March 14 in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.  If you are a member of the clergy residing in Tennessee and would like to add your name, email your name and city of residence to [email protected] .

The statement and names of the clergy follow:

"As clergy and leaders of faith communities, we oppose SB2480/HB2620. Using the resources of state government to defend school districts that engage in discrimination is opposed to our values and it undercuts the important work of building just communities in Tennessee."

Rev. Tim Kobler, Knoxville

Rev. Brandon Gilvin, Chattanooga

Rev. Jeff Briere, Johnson City

Rev. Thomas Kleinert, Nashville

Rev. Pamela Hawkins, Nashville

Rev. Bruce Spangler, Oak Ridge

Rev. Greg Bullard, Madison

Rev. Kira Schlesinger, Nashville

Rev. Chris Buice, Knoxville

Rev. Dr. Gordon Gibson, Knoxville

Rev. RJ Powell, Knoxville

Rabbis Philip and Laurie Rice, Brentwood

Rev. Amy Mears, Nashville

Rev. April Baker, Nashville

Rev. J. Peter van Eys, Nashville

Rev. Jon Coffee, Knoxville

Rev. Cynthia Andrews-Looper, Gallatin

Rev. Deven Hazelwood Johnson, Johnson City

Rev. Tim Bath, Murfreesboro

Rev. Paul Slentz, Nashville

Rev. Robert Early, Nashville

Rev. Dave McIntyre, Tullahoma

Rev. Joy Warren, Murfreesboro

Spiritual director Mary Linda McKinney, Nashville

Rev. Thomas A. Momberg, Memphis

Rev. Andrew Ward, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Patricia J. Pickett, Ashland City

Rev. Laura Bogle, Knoxville

Pastors Larry and Carolyn Dipboye, Oak Ridge

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Nashville

Rev. Ken Carroll, Chattanooga

Rev. Wayne Cook, Chattanooga

Rev. Nelia J. Kimbrough and Rev. R. Calvin Kimbrough, Jr., Nashville

Rev. Carolyn Coleman, Nashville

Rev. Ann Walling, Nashville

Rev. Judi Hoffman, Nashville

Rev. Denise Gyauch, Nashville

Rev. Lisa Gwok, Nashville

Rev. Tim Stewart, Mt. Juliet

Rev. M. Franklin Dotts, Hermitage

Rev. Anne McClure, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Jonathan L. Jeffords, Memphis

Rev. Nicole Krewson, Knoxville

Rev. Eric S. Greenwood, Jr., Nashville

Rev. Jametta Alston, Knoxville

Rev. Brandon Berg, Bristol

Rev. Michael Williams, Nashville

Rev. Michael Castellaw-Vaughn, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Diana L. Hynson, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Birgitte French, Memphis

Fr. Valentine Handwerker, Memphis

Community Minister Edith A. Love, Memphis

Rev. Ken Edwards, Old Hickory

Rev. Sandy Shawhan, Nashville

Rev. Katie Woodard, Clarksville

Rev. Viki Matson, Nashville

Rev. Anne McKee, Maryville

Rev. John Tirro, Knoxville

Rev. Mark C. Pafford, Smithville

Rev. Alaina Cobb, Chattanooga

Rev. Shelby Slowey, Nashville

Rev. Heather Harriss, Nashville

Rev. Nancy Speas Hill, Franklin

Rev. Floridia Jackson, Memphis

Rev. Susan Groseclose, Nashville

Rev. Paul R. Purdue, Nashville

Rev. Elaine Blanchard, Memphis

Rev. Lucy A. Waechter, Memphis

Rev. John Feldhacker, Nashville

Rev. Ingrid McIntyre, Nashville

Rev. Rebekah Gienapp, Memphis

Rev. William Stooksbury, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Bindy Snyder, Memphis

Rev. Vern Denney, Nashville

Rev. Dr. Matthew L. Kelley, Franklin

Rev. Holly Mueller, Nashville

Rev. Sara K. Corum, Memphis

Rev. Josh McClurkan, Memphis





Week of March 4 is a great time to work for equality

This week is a great time to join your efforts to the work of others in advancing equality in Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 6

*Advancing Equality Day on the Hill is all day.  You can find a list of appointments at this link.People from East, West, and Middle Tennessee will be in Nashville speaking with their legislators about anti-LGBTQ bills.  That schedule includes a press conference at Noon at the Cordell Hull building.  Even if you can't make it to a legislative appointment or stay the whole day, consider attending the press conference.  Learn more about it at this link

*After Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, there are a couple of options if you live in Nashville.  You could attend the Cocktails and Conversation event that previews MTSU's upcoming conference.  Learn more at this link.  You can also learn more about online voter registration at Pecker's.  RSVP here.  Urge friends to attend.

Wednesday, March 7

*Join us in Knoxville for the TEP Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties Committee meeting.  Learn more and RSVP at this link.

Any Day

*Help us register voters at gay/LGBTQ bars.  It is easy to do and we can get you a packet quickly.  If you want to help, contact us at [email protected]The expectation is that you begin within a week of receiving your packet.  We could really use help in Memphis and Chattanooga. 

*Share the link online.  Just copy and paste http://proudvoter.org/tep/ on Facebook or Twitter or other social media.  Along with the link, tell people they can register to vote online.

*Consider starting a monthly donation of $5+ to TEP at this link to help us work for equality.  Or you can make a one-time donation at this link.

Thanks for all you do to fight for equality in Tennessee.






How Nashvillians can help the week of Feb. 12

Here are two events in Nashville this week where we need your voice and your presence.

Monday, Feb. 12 at OutCentral located at 1709 Church Street from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Working It Out: Story Booth Nashville.  We need members of the LGBTQ community to share stories about their work.  RSVP and learn more at the link.

Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Cordell Hull Building located at 425 5th Avenue North from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wear RED against the Business License to Discriminate bill.  The bill is up for consideration in the House State Government Subcommittee, Room IV.  RSVP and learn more at the link.  Please, invite your friends.

Other Ways to Help

1. Make a plan this week to set aside time on March 6 for TEP's Advancing Equality Days on the Hill-Part 2. Learn more at this link.

2. Link your Kroger PLUS card to the TEP Foundation at this link

3. Take our survey about workplace harassment at this link.  Allies welcome, too.

Thanks for all you do to advance equality in Tennessee!

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

Email to Chester County Director of Schools concerning sex discrimination in yearbook photos

The following email was sent to Mr. Troy Kilzer II, director of schools, Chester County concerning the sex discrimination faced by student Hannah Wooley.  Hannah refused to wear a drape for her senior picture.  WBBJ has the story at this link.  We were limited to 1000 characters at this form and received no confirmation that the email went through.  So in case it was not received, this is our message.

Dear Mr. Kilzer:

We urge you to change any policies and practices related to yearbook photographs based upon sex discrimination and to issue an apology to Hannah Wooley.

The principal told WBBJ that girls must wear drapes while boys must wear tuxedos. You say it is a longstanding practice, not a written policy.  In either case, two things are clear.  You are acting as an agent of the government. And you are engaging in sex discrimination when you require certain kinds of clothing based on sex stereotypes. To do right by students and avoid litigation, any discriminatory policies or enforced practices must end.

Curiously the practice of forcing girls to wear drapes may violate your own school dress policy that requires shirts with collars. See CCBOE Policy 6.310 . That would mean that Hannah was in compliance with the written policy of your district.

Prudence and justice dictate your speedy resolution of this wrong.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

Tennessee Equality Project

Bathroom bill back yet again; Business License to Discriminate bill on the move

A new bathroom bill was filed at the beginning of the legislative session; then it was withdrawn. Now it's back with new sponsors.  SB2480/HB2620 by Sen. Hensley and Rep. Holt would require the TN Attorney General to represent school districts if they get sued for engaging in anti-transgender bathroom discrimination.  In other words, the power of the state government will defend school districts that target transgender students.  Immoral!

Consider emailing Sen. Hensley at [email protected] and Rep. Holt at [email protected] and ask them to withdraw SB2480/HB2620.  There will be further action steps to take on that bill in the coming weeks.

HB54, the Business License to Discriminate bill, is up for consideration on Valentine's Day!  Email Rep. Zachary at [email protected] and urge him to withdraw HB54.  If you can attend the hearing on the bill in RED on Feb. 14, RSVP at the link.  There will also be additional action steps to take on this bill in a few days.

Advancing Equality Days on the Hill:  Tomorrow (Tuesday) advocates from around the state will be participating in the first of three Advancing Equality Days on the Hill.  They have been equipped to talk about these discriminatory bills and a couple of positive bills that help the LGBTQ community.  Be encouraged by their work and mark your calendar for the second day on the Hill, which is March 6.  RSVP at the link.  The third and final of these events will be April 3.

We have a heavy workload this year.  We are grateful to those who support our lobbying work with a monthly donation.  If you are one of those individuals, your sustaining support is a rock for us.  If you would like to become a monthly supporter with a $5+ recurring donation, you can sign up here.  If you prefer to make a one-time contribution, you can do that here.

Gratefully yours,

Chris Sanders

Executive Director

Team Results for the 2018 TEP Gumbo Contest


Regardless of their final scores in the TEP Gumbo Contest, all of the gumbo teams who entered the competition are winners for equality in the eyes of Tennessee Equality Project. We deeply appreciate each team for dedicating their weekend to the competition and supporting the event. The winners of the 2018 TEP Gumbo Contest are:

Judge's Choice Awards:

  • First Place: Rouxing on the River
  • Second Place: The Pumping Station
  • Thirds Place: Me and Eddie

People's Choice Awards:

  • First Place: Roux-thless Dames
  • Second Place: The Gumbros
  • Third Place: Trouxth and Consequences

Best Vegetarian/Vegan: Lulu's Baked

Gumbo Team Spirit: Trouxth and Consequences

VIP Table Spirit: First Tennessee

The final scores for the Judge's and People's Choice competitions appear below:

Read more

Gather for equality at these events through January 22

Events are coming up this week through January 22 in East, West, and Middle Tennessee. Get out, get involved!

January 18--Knoxville. Advocacy 101 for East TN.

January 20--Nashville. Women's March 2.0.  (TEP is participating and we urge you to do so.)

January 21--Memphis. TEP Gumbo Contest presented by Hilton Memphis.

January 22--Nashville.  Advocacy 101 and Happy Hour.

We face horrible anti-LGBTQ legislation this year. Your financial support makes it possible for us to afford the tools necessary to fight back.  Please, consider making a $5+ monthly donation.  Signing up for recurring donations is easy at this link. Or you can make a one-time donation at this link.

Advocacy 101 sessions scheduled so far

The following Advocacy 101 sessions are scheduled in January around Tennessee.  More cities will be added.  Click on any of the following to learn more and RSVP.

What is the purpose of Advocacy 101?  It is designed to help you prepare to advocate for equality and oppose discrimination in the upcoming state legislative session.  Beginners are welcome.

January 3--Rutherford County in Murfreesboro

January 11--Tri-Cities in Elizabethton

January 17--Sumner County in Gallatin

January 18--East TN in Knoxville

January 22--Nashville

January 26--Shelby County in Memphis at the University of Memphis.

January 31--TEP Hamblen County Organizational Meeting in Morristown (will include part of Advocacy 101)

If you would like to support our work, consider a small monthly contribution.  Signing up is easy at this link.

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