Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry has released an official statement decrying Tennessee’s recently passed anti-transgender bills; she explains that these laws could potentially cause her city to lose millions in revenue.
In particular, Barry points to HB2414/SB2387, a legislation that discriminates against transgender students by banning them from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, as well as HB1840/SB1556, a legislation that would allow mental health professionals to refuse counselling and therapy services to LGBT clients.
‘This legislation doesn’t reflect Nashville’s values and doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life for citizens of our city or state.
‘If some lawmakers don’t see the value in recognising people’s dignity and privacy, I hope they can at least see the negative economic impact and potential loss of revenue to Nashville and the State of Tennessee,’ says Barry in her statement.
‘And we’ve already received indications that conventions might pull out of Nashville or eliminate our city from consideration should HB2414/SB2387 become law – resulting in a potential loss of over $10 million in state and local tax revenue and nearly $58 million in direct visitor spending removed from our economy.
‘That is the loss of economic activity in just one sector of our city’s economy.’
And looking at how Hollywood and numerous well-known celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Bruce Springsteen have come out to boycott states that are passing anti-LGBTI legislation, Barry warns that Tennessee could too suffer similar backlash:
‘Our future ability to attract film and television production will also be impacted, and we could expect to see other industry sectors impacted, as well.
‘That’s quite a price to pay for legislation that would seem to hurt people – including some of our youngest and our most vulnerable – without actually benefitting anyone in the process.’
In closing, Barry remarks that the state should be working on real issues, striving to improve the lives of its residents, instead of unfairly targeting a minority group:
‘Instead of creating complex and confusing regulations for restrooms, or becoming the only state in the nation to allow discrimination by counselling professionals, the state should work with local governments to continue our economic growth, address traffic problems, and give our schools the resources and support they need to be successful.’
The states could lose up to billions of federal funding if found guilty of violating federal standards for non-discrimination.
If Tennessee were to approve the anti-transgender bills it has on the table, it is possible that the federal government might also open a review of the state’s legislation.
By then, it might be all too late for the southern state to avoid paying the price of being a bigot and a bully.