Of the five anti-LGBTQ laws introduced into Tennessee this year, the transphobic bathroom signage requirement is coming under scrutiny. Nashville locals, like music producer Mike Curb, are outraged at the danger that drawing attention to safe spaces could have on LGBTQ patrons. Curb, along with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have independently filed lawsuits against the state in response to House Bill 1182 (HB 1182).

HB 1182 states that a public or private business or nonprofit must display signs that specifically allow transgender and nonbinary persons to use their restrooms. Not only would these signs be mandatory, but business owners who refuse to post these notices could face half a year of jail time if they continue to allow gender expansive persons to use their preferred bathrooms. This is exactly what Curb, founder of Curb Records and former lieutenant governor of California, said he was afraid of. 

“It is hard to believe that our LGBT community in Tennessee is being assaulted with so much harmful legislation, much of it being signed by Gov. Lee, at a time when our country needs to come together more than ever before,” Curb laments. The ACLU has voiced similar concerns, emphasizing that HB 1182 would make it so that businesses will “communicate a misleading and controversial government-mandated message that they would not otherwise display.”

The legislation went into effect on July 1, although HB 1182 has yet to be implemented across Tennessee. Lieutenant Gov. Randy McNally told reporters that he did not know if penalties would be enforced. Since policing of businesses will be entirely local, there may be counties, towns or cities that are more lax, or strict, with the transphobic bathroom bill. 

Originally signed by Gov. Bill Lee on May 17, the law was passed by almost all Republicans, and rejected by almost all Democrats in Tennessee. The discord between these political parties is mirrored in that of Tennessee’s constituents. Many business owners and community organizers are saying that the only ones who will be punished by HB 1182 are those who are attempting to accommodate LGBTQ individuals. 

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