MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In Governor Bill Lee’s visit to Memphis on Friday, he was asked about several controversial state bills that opponents say are anti-LGBTQ and are gaining national criticism.
Governor Bill Lee has already signed one bill into law requiring students to play high school sports as the gender they were assigned at birth, that decision has received harsh criticism for being anti-LGBTQ rights.
Now, Governor Lee has other bills heading to his desk for a signature that opponents say is “discriminatory.”
On Thursday, the Tennessee legislature passed Senate Bill 1229 allowing parents to opt their children OUT of school lessons involving sexual orientation or gender identity.
Governor Lee responded to questions about that Bill Friday during his visit to Journey Hanley Elementary School in Memphis.
“Parents should be the absolute final decision maker on what their children learn in a school,” said Governor Lee.
“You cannot opt out of this world. It’s not like they’re teaching children how to transition or saying that one gender or one sexual orientation is better than the other. It’s simply sharing what exists,” said Raumesh Akbari, Tennessee State Senator District 29.
Another bill passing the Tennessee legislature this week would allow teachers and students to refuse to share restrooms with transgender people.
Schools that don’t comply could face costly lawsuits.
“Everybody student will have access to a bathroom of their choice,” said Governor Lee. “I haven’t read the language, but as soon as it starts heading to my desk, any bull that provides equal access for all kids I’ll sign.”
“I think it’s just a bill that unnecessary. It’s not something that we’ve had complaints about or there’s some sort of situation that anyone is being in any sort of danger,” said Akbari.
Those bills and several other pieces of legislation making their way through the state legislature have been named the “slate of hate” by opponents.
Senator Akbari has joined with the Human Rights Campaign and over 80 companies who signed a letter in opposition to the bills.
He believes these bills could also have severe negative economic effects.
“You look at a state like North Carolina when they passed their bathroom bill, they lost millions. I think 80 million upwards of dollars and Tennessee has already had 3 or 4 conventions that have cancelled,” said Akbari.
“I think it’s important that the community speak out at any time on any issue that they believe,” said Governor Lee.