LGBT chamber sends letter to lawmakers opposing bills

Tenn. capitol
Posted at 6:55 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:51:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 180 businesses and corporations signed a letter to state lawmakers opposing LGBTQ-related legislation Monday. The Nashville LGBT Chamber released the letter urging lawmakers to stop the pursuit of 15 bills. The chamber is targeting bills specifying transgender athletes, students and rules involving bathrooms.

Joe Woolley, CEO of the chamber, said it's trying to keep bills that discriminate against LGBT people from being passed.

"We're the state with the most anti-LGBT bills filed this year. We are the state that's had the most anti-LGBT bills filed since 2017 and we're also the state that has the most to lose," said Woolley.

He also said he believes there will be a sharp economic impact if the state continues to pass legislation like this. Among the corporations signing the legislation are Amazon and Dell.

"Think of it this way, two-bathroom bills. We are the only state to have a bathroom bill filed this year and we've had two of them. Both of them are moving forward," he said.

Woolley said he knows of two conventions that will pull out of Tennessee with the current bills being considered. He said he can't name the conventions since their plans to relocate haven't been finalized.

However, Monday, one group announced they wouldn't be doing business in states with discrimination against transgender people. The NCAA said it would not hold championships in such states and released the following statement:

"When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants. "

Nashville Mayor John Cooper also commented on the NCAA decision on Twitter.

One local transgender woman also said the legislation reminds her of a time when youth were counseled if they believed they were a gender other than the sex they were born with.

"I didn't know I was transgender at 5 or 6 because I didn't know what that word was. I didn't know what it meant," said Olivia Hill, a Nashville native who transitioned shortly after her mother died. "When she passed away it really devastated me. And I started seeking counseling and when I did then me kind of came out. The counselor I was seeing just kind of labeled it as transgender. I never really thought about that."

Hill said she remembers a psychologist telling her she had to act like a boy. And so, for a long time, she said she tried to be as manly as possible.

"I had a really hard time trying to figure out why they told me not to feel this way but I still felt this way," she said.

Hill said whenever she sees new legislation aimed at the LGBTQ community, it lowers her pride in her home state.

"I'm really saddened by all of these bad laws because they're targeting people like me where I can use the bathroom. They're targeting the businesses to have to post signs that put an even larger target on me and them. Not accepting these kids is just horrible. It's just absolutely horrible," she said.

The bill to stop transgender girls from competing in middle and high school girls' sports is already law. The other bills are still moving through committees.