New Project: In the new year, the TEP Foundation is going to undertake a new project with a particular focus on three counties in Tennessee--Madison, Wilson, and Blount. And we're going to try to see what the existing attitudes toward LGBT people are and figure out what might increase acceptance of LGBT people in these areas.
Why Wilson County?
Wilson County is in Middle Tennessee, just to the East of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County. It's an area of rapid growth while still retaining a significant rural character. The population is around 114,000, as of the 2010 Census. Significant industry is taking note of the area. Under Armour's massive facility in Mt. Juliet is evidence of that trend.
Bad Legislation: Unfortunately Wilson County has been the source of significant anti-equality legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly. In 2011, Sen. Mae Beavers sponsored the bill that nullified Metro Nashville's contractor non-discrimination ordinance. She and Rep. Mark Pody have tried to advance bills to undo Vanderbilt's all-comers non-discrimination policy for student clubs. And the duo have gotten back together to sponsor the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act up for consideration in 2016.
So it seems pretty important to figure why such discriminatory bills are originating in Wilson County and whether anything can be done to shift the culture of acceptance. If we can learn anything in Wilson County, the lessons might be applicable throughout the state.
Get Involved: If you would like to volunteer for our Wilson County team, click here and select the appropriate option. You don't have to live in Wilson County to do so.
If you would like to be part of a phone bank on Feb. 15 when we do our survey of Wilson County voters on LGBT issues, RSVP here.
I hope you will join us for this exciting project. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .