Transgender restroom bill advancing in Tennessee Senate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Senate is advancing a bill to require transgender students to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth, while House members are seeking to revive the measure that was defeated earlier in the week.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday voted 7-3 in favor of the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Jim Coley of Bartlett told the House Education Administration and Planning Committee that he will seek to have the committee reconsider its decision to study the measure after the Legislature adjourns for the year.

Religious conservatives are pushing the legislation, but Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has raised concerns it could endanger federal education funding and says that he wants to leave the issue to local school districts to decide.

Meanwhile, North Carolina legislators decided to rein in local governments by approving a bill Wednesday that prevents cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination rules. Gov. Pat McCrory later signed the legislation, which dealt a blow to the LGBT movement after success with protections in cities across the country.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly took action after Charlotte city leaders last month approved a broad anti-discrimination measure. Critics focused on language in the ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.

McCrory, who was the mayor of Charlotte for 14 years and had criticized the local ordinance, signed the legislation Wednesday night that he said was “passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette.”

Although 12 House Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the bill in the afternoon, later all Senate Democrats in attendance walked off their chamber floor during the debate in protest. Remaining Senate Republicans gave the legislation unanimous approval.

Copyright 2016 AP. All rights reserved.

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