By Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee lawyer wants the state law of public law to apply to bathrooms and changing rooms – a feature that critics claim is designed to limit the facilities that transgender people can use.
The bill, which was approved by a subcommittee in Wednesday, is still in the early stages of the GOP dominant general meeting. Nevertheless, it has already taken into account civil rights activists worried about its possible similarity to the one North Carolina that was adopted before it was abolished due to national setbacks.
According to the proposal, Tennessee's indecent law of law will change from use to a "public place" to clarify that public places include public toilets, lockers and changing rooms designated for single sex, using multiple persons. In order to be found guilty, the person must be a member of the opposite sex of the designated area and deliberately expose their genitals or "reasonably" expect the action to be considered and offended the viewer.
"This bill simply adds clarity to the definitions and otherwise leaves the current obscene exposure law unchanged," Rep said. John Ragan, the Republican sponsor bill. "(It will) ensure that the definition of public space already in law is extended to ensure clarity."
Ragan's proposal had originally indicated that a "gender dysphoria, gender confusion or similar relationship" diagnosis could not be allowed as a defense if imposed on indecent exposure.
However, this line was left out in an amendment adopted on Wednesday with Republican lawmakers on the panel trying to reduce concerns the bill was targeting transgender people.
This fight came in particular when Ragan said he sponsored the bill because of confusion created when the Obama era rules instructed the schools to allow students to use bathrooms and create according to their expressed gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth.
Trump's administration has since rolled back these rules, but Ragan said confusion remains.
"I just want to make sure we are on the bill as changed, have absolutely nothing to do with what we hear about now," Republican rep said. Michael Curcio.
"This is background, I'm sorry," Ragan said.
"I don't think it is," Curcio said.
Ragan appeared, but added that the background was important to understand why clarity about Tennessee's obscene exposure law was important.
The Sub-Committee of the Criminal Court decided on Wednesday to send the proposal for a full hearing after discussing the language for 15 minutes. No one from the public witnessed the bill, but about a dozen protesters sat in the front row and held signs that signaled their opposition to the bill.
After the meeting was interrupted, protesters followed Ragan out of the committee and called for him. One woman said she was "very proud" of her transgender child, while a separate man shouted out "Nazi".
Ragan went out of a private entrance.