Tennessee Legislature Advances 2 Bills Targeting LGBT Individuals

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The Tennessee state legislature on Wednesday advanced two separate pieces of legislation that target LGBT individuals, eliciting outcries from the business community.

The state House on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow counselors to deny services to individuals based on sincerely held beliefs, letting them refuse to help gay individuals. State Rep. Dan Howell (R) has pushed the legislation in response to a change in the American Counseling Association’s ethics code that tells counselors not to refer clients “based solely on the counselor’s personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”

The state House education committee also passed a bill on Wednesday that would require students to use the bathroom that aligns with their sex at birth, reviving legislation that the committee tabled a month ago due to concern from some Republicans.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has expressed concern over the bill and whether it could cost the state education funding from the federal government. He’s argued that schools should decide their bathroom policies.

And the business community has already voiced opposition to the legislation. Executives from four companies signed onto a letter Wednesday urging legislators not to pass the bill regarding school bathrooms. Representatives of the state’s tourism and theater industry have also warned that the bill could hurt the states economy and cost Tennesseans jobs.

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