Tennessee's transgender student bathroom bill is dead for the year

Representatives from the Center for Equality, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, LGBT supporters and members of the Human Rights Campaign stand on the front steps of the State Capitol to honor Trans Kids Support Visibility Day in Pierre, S.D. on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. Gov. Dennis Daugaard heard from several transgender people during a meeting Tuesday at the Capitol, where advocates gathered to urge the governor to veto a bill that would require students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth.

NASHVILLE -- A controversial transgender student bill is dead in the Tennessee House.

Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, this afternoon pulled the legislation which would have required transgender students to use public school and college bathrooms matching the biological sex listed on their birth certificates.

"Well, there's definitely some issues that we need to work out," Lynn told reporters. "We know as soon as this bill passes we're going to be sued. If we're going to be headed into a lawsuit we want to make sure we have the strongest position possible."

Lynn added that "right now our schools are largely doing what this bill says. I'm confident that students are being protected right now. I'm not fearful that they're not being protected.

"But this little bit of additional time will allow us to work out those issues and allow us to come back with a stronger bill and I think will be suited for a lawsuit if it comes," she added.

Lynn noted there were some provisions she needed to get more information about, including whether there could be repercussions for college sports teams fielded by the University of Tennessee and other public universities under NCAA rules.

Moreover, with litigation over the Obama administration's position pending in at least two states, there could be more clarity on the overall issue, Lynn said.

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, thanked Lynn and Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, for bringing the legislation. He pointed a finger of blame at Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, saying the two lawmakers worked "in the face of consistent opposition from the governor's office and others."

He said "join the thousands of parents across the state who are profoundly disappointed that at this point in the process Rep. Lynn has decided not to proceed with a bill that would have simply protected the privacy of the children they have entrusted to our public schools."

He also noted there were legislators "who said they would take the bill from Rep. Lynn this year and continue to push it forward; however, it was not to be. We trust that one of them will do so next year. If so, we stand ready to assist, even as we have tried to do on the legislation this year."

In addition to being opposed by Tennessee's LGBT community, the national Human Rights Campaign and top CEOs from some 60 major corporations, Haslam had publicly raised concerns about the legislation.

So did Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery who in a legal opinion last week said it could cost the state some $1 billion in federal IX funding under the Obama administration's interpretation of the provisions.

Critics said the legislation could impact companies' ability to recruit workers and have a negative impact on the recruitment of new companies or expansions.

Earlier today, Fowler and a group of some 30 conservative pastors held a news conference urging lawmakers to stay firm on the legislation.