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Olivia Hill is elected as first Out trans official in Tennessee

A Nashville native, Hill graduated from Hillwood High School in 1983. She served in the U.S. Navy and saw combat overseas during Desert Storm

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Newly elected Metro Council member Olivia Hill. (Photo Credit: LGBTQ+ Victory Fund)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Voters in the City of Nashville and surrounding Davidson County made history Thursday as Olivia Hill won an at-large seat on the Metro Council, making her the first openly transgender official elected to public office in “the Volunteer State.”

The Tennessean reported that Hill secured one of the Council’s five at-large seats in Thursday’s runoff election with 12.9% of the vote, as of 10 p.m. Thursday night. She joins a historic number of women elected to the Council. All five at-large members will be women, as well as 17 district councilmembers. That adds up to 22 women — a majority of the 40-member council.

“I want to say that I am elated,” Hill told The Tennessean after the historic win. A Nashville native, Hill graduated from Hillwood High School in 1983. She then served in the U.S. Navy from 1986-1995 and saw combat overseas during Desert Storm.

Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, released the following statement after Hill was elected:

“Nashville voters clearly reject the hateful rhetoric that has grown louder in Tennessee politics lately. Olivia’s victory proves that transgender people belong everywhere decisions about them are being made, including local office. I know Olivia is well-prepared to take her seat on the Metro Council and work to make Nashville and Davidson County a more welcoming place for all.”

The Metropolitan Council (officially the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County) is the legislative body of the consolidated city-county government of Nashville, Tennessee and Davidson County.

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Tennessee

Vanderbilt sued over sending trans records to Tennessee AG

Vanderbilt says the clinic performs about five surgeries per year on patients under 18 — all with parental consent- none genital procedures

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube WTVF News Channel 5 Nashville)

NASHVILLE – Two transgender patients have filed a lawsuit against Vanderbilt University Medical Center for sharing their health records with the office of Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti in connection with its investigation into the provider’s billing practices.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues Vanderbilt should have removed their personally identifying information in consideration of how hostile Skrmetti and other elected Republican leaders in the state have been toward gender affirming care and transgender people more broadly.

Earlier this month, an appeals court ruled Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for minors can go into effect pending the outcome of litigation challenging the restrictions.

State lawmakers paused all gender affirming surgeries for minors a month after anti-trans conservative pundit Matt Walsh published footage of a provider claiming the procedures are “huge money makers” for hospitals.

Vanderbilt says the clinic performs about five surgeries per year on patients under 18 — all with parental consent and none receiving genital procedures.

Plaintiffs will seek class certification for all patients whose records were collected by authorities, a total of more than 100, according to their lawsuit.

Last month, the Los Angeles Blade confirmed the documents were shared in compliance with the attorney general’s orders for information as part of its probe into the clinic’s management of TennCare payments.

The investigation began in September 2022, with Vanderbilt beginning to turn over patient records a few months later, according to a spokesperson for Skrmetti’s office who added, “We are surprised that VUMC has deliberately chosen to frighten its patients like this.”

The Tennesseean reported that parents of trans children called a local LGBTQ advocacy organization in a panic after the medical center went public about its compliance with the attorney general’s investigation.

Likewise, the patients’ lawsuit says following the disclosure they were “terrified for their physical safety, have had significant anxiety and distress that has impacted their ability to work, has caused them to increase home security measures, and drop out of activities in which they normally would participate.”

A Vanderbilt spokesperson said, “the decision to release patient records for any purpose is never taken lightly, even in situations such as this where VUMC was legally compelled to produce the patient records.”

Disclosure of the requests came after another court case revealed their existence.

Plaintiffs contend, however, that the clinic caused emotional damage by negligently failing to redact patient information and acted in violation of privacy and consumer protection laws.

The Associated Press reports their lawsuit seeks “monetary damages, improved security procedures, an injunction blocking further release of their records without notice, an acknowledgement by Vanderbilt that it violated its own privacy policy, and an admission that the policy inadequately informs patients of their rights regarding disclosures.”

The complaint was filed Monday in the Nashville Chancery Court.

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Vanderbilt turns over trans youth patient records to Tennessee AG

“They’re terrified- They don’t know what’s next, they don’t know how this will be used or whether they will be targeted in some way”

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube WTVF News Channel 5 Nashville)

NASHVILLE – Hundreds of private medical records of transgender adults and youth treated for gender-affirming care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, (VUMC) were released to the Tennessee Attorney General as part of an investigation into billing practices for TennCare payments for trans health care services a spokesperson for VUMC confirmed Tuesday.

“VUMC received requests from the Office of the Tennessee Attorney General as part of its investigation seeking information about transgender care at VUMC. The Tennessee Attorney General has legal authority in an investigation to require that VUMC provide complete copies of patient medical records that are relevant to its investigation. VUMC was obligated to comply and did so,” John Howser, VUMC’s chief communications officer, said in a statement.

Screenshot of an email sent to a trans patient at VUMC notifying them of the compliance with the request for their records by the Tennessee Attorney General’s office.

The Tennessean reported that it had reviewed a VUMC notice informing patients of the move, which the facility said was the result of an investigation into “billing for transgender care services provided to individuals enrolled in State-sponsored insurance plans.” The state requested medical records from Jan. 1, 2018 to the present.

As the news broke of VUMC’s actions, the Chief of Staff for Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office, Brandon Smith, responded:

“We are surprised that VUMC has deliberately chosen to frighten its patients like this.”

Smith said that the office had been investigating potential medical billing fraud by VUMC since September 2022, and the VUMC started providing patient records in December 2022.

“The Office does not publicize fraud investigations to preserve the integrity of the investigative process. The Office maintains patient records in the strictest confidence, as required by law. The investigation is focused solely on VUMC and certain related providers, not patients, as VUMC is well aware.”

Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, told The Tennessean three different parents of transgender children called him in a panic since Monday after they were told by Vanderbilt that their child’s medical records were released to the attorney general as “part of an investigation.” Sanders said the parents had no other details.

“They’re terrified,” he said. “They don’t know what’s next, they don’t know how this will be used or whether they will be targeted in some way. They feel like their privacy has been violated.”

Speaking with The Blade Tuesday evening, Lance Preston, the founder and executive director of the Indianapolis-based Rainbow Youth Project said that today, June 20, 2023, between 10:45AM and 8:30PM EST, RYP crisis team members responded to 376 acute mental health crises involving LGBTQ+ young people, between the ages of 14-19, residing in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Based on self-reports from those youth and their parents, the common denominator was clear the fact that Vanderbilt University Medical Center had been forced to release transgender patient records to the Republican Tennessee Attorney General’s Office badly frightened them.

Preston told the Blade that his team of counselors relayed that all of these young people presented with varying degrees of mental health crises including a rapid increase of intense fear, agitation, hopelessness, isolation, and sense of worthlessness. Many were already experiencing depression and were withdrawn from friends and family due to the recent political climate regarding transgender health care for minors.

More worrisome according to Preston was a majority demonstrated a level of mental health crisis that included suicidal ideation or, at minimum, put them in jeopardy of harming themselves.

He told the Blade that 98 of the young people were referred for immediate mental health counseling – although he noted that 77 of those expressed concern about speaking to a therapist in their state [Tennessee] due to fear of investigations.

“They prefer to speak with a therapist in a state other than their own which will be tricky,” he said but noted that RYP does have resources to accomplish those requests.

Information provided by RYP to the Blade revealed that the organization responded to an average of 112 crisis calls monthly from LGBTQ+ young people in Tennessee between May 1, 2022 – March 1, 2023.

However, the crisis contacts began a steady increase in March 2023 after Republican Governor Bill Lee signed legislation prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors. However, the highest volume of calls from Tennessee recorded in a single day since March 2, 2023 was 67.

Rainbow Youth project staff noted that conversely similar increases were documented from young people in Texas in March of 2022 when Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Department of Family & Protective Services to investigate parents of trans youth for potential child abuse. A second increase from Texas followed in December 2022 when it was publicly disclosed that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had sought data on Texans who had changed their gender identity on their driver licenses.

The law banning trans youth healthcare is currently being challenged in U.S. District Court in Nashville by the U.S. Department of Justice, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

The state’s new ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth is set take effect in less than two weeks on July 1 barring action by the federal court.

The law prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 18, including prescribing puberty blockers and hormones.

It allows doctors to perform these medical services if the patient’s care had begun prior to July 1. However, that care must end by March 31, 2024.

Last October, VUMC announced that it was pausing all gender-affirming surgeries. This following Republican Governor Bill Lee’s call for an investigation into the clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in a statement after reporting by transphobic and homophobic far-right pundit Matt Walsh on his Daily Wire show.

“The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Governor Lee said in his statement. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”

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Pride on display in Tennessee’s more than 100 Kroger stores

“I watch the news, usually with my jaw on the floor. They have lost their minds and they don’t represent this state anymore”

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Typical Kroger grocery store chain storefront (Screenshot/YouTube)

GREENBRIER, Tn. – As Tennessee lawmakers go nuclear attacking LGBTQ rights- attempting to mute drag queens and their shows, preventing trans youth from getting supportive transition care, barring LGBTQ school groups, banning books with LGBTQ themes from public libraries and allowing discrimination against same sex couples seeking to adopt a child- Some small but powerful pushback gestures are popping up all around the state, with rainbow stickers on business doors, bumper stickers on cars, and Love Wins posters in yards. 

But perhaps the most visible and daring show of support is from Kroger, the grocery store chain that has more than 115 locations in 56 cities throughout the state. 

At one Kroger store in Greenbrier, a two-stoplight town in rural Robertson County situated about 30 miles north of Nashville on the Kentucky border, Jaxon, who requested that their last name not be used, was seen re-stocking the store’s Pride Merch display.

“This stuff sells quite a bit, but it’s just a little expensive for most people. They look at it and see $18 T-shirts and walk away, but I’ve noticed kids my age buy it anyway,” said the 17-year-old grocery worker.

Kroger ‘Pride Merch’ display (Photo by Troy Masters)

A store manager, who also asked for anonymity said: “I don’t know if these are out in every store or not, but I know we have plenty of customers who are gay and lesbian. I see them here and I want them to feel happy.” He added, “things are hard enough here for them so this is a little reminder that there is some love for them here.”

“I’m Christian, you know,” he said, looking away briefly “but I know God welcomes everybody.” When asked what he knew about the Tennessee’s legislative actions against trans youth, drag and LGBTQ+ people, he said “I watch the news, usually with my jaw on the floor. They have lost their minds and they don’t represent this state anymore.”

The likelihood of pushback will be difficult for Kroger, but it’s inevitable.

Alice T. lives in nearby Springfield said; “I am not a homophobic person, but I have 3 children who don’t need to see this stuff. I don’t want to explain it to them, either, and I shouldn’t have too,” she said as the Blade interviewed her by a stand in the store’s pharmacy area that displayed Magnum condoms and several lube options.

Another Greenbrier Kroger shopper, Marqus E. expressed a more neutral sentiment, saying he didn’t think the display should be removed. “I ain’t bothered by it. I don’t understand homo life, but they probably don’t understand rednecks either,” he laughed. “We ain’t botherin’ nobody, you know.” 

He compared it to other things the store does to mark occasions. “Hell, I bought a Lily here a couple of weeks ago for Easter.” 

“It’s not holiday,” said Lisa G. as she stood by eavesdropping. “It’s grooming. These people need to be stopped,” she said as she stormed out of the store, kids in tow.

It’s unlikely Kroger would remove the displays, however.

The Cincinnati-based grocery chain has taken a stand against Tennessee’s local LGBTQ+ community previously and learned a painful lesson.

In 2007, Nashville’s LGBT newspaper, Out and About, was told by its distributor that Kroger would no longer allow the paper to be distributed in its 34 local Kroger stores and three of the company’s (now closed) Harris Teeter stores. The move dealt a major blow to the  newspaper’s distribution, impacting advertising revenue and readership.

“I believe there has been a call from some people in the religious community who have said take it out or they’re going to make waves,” Out & About wrote in reporting the story, quoting an executive who negotiated the contract for distribution at the two grocery chains. 

The newspaper was shocked by Kroger’s response. 

Kroger’s Nashville spokeswoman Melissa Eads said at the time. “We have had a long-standing policy in place that prohibits the third party from distributing publications that promote political, religious or other specific agendas. If a publication is offered that does not meet the guidelines mentioned above, we do ask the distributor to remove it. That is what recently happened when this publication was placed on our free rack.”

The publisher of the country’s then largest gay newspaper, New York City’s Gay City News, who happens to be a native Nashvillian, emailed Kroger representatives to dispute the claim that company policy prohibits publications that push a particular point of view on social issues. He cited articles in several newspapers the stores distribute that violated their policy, yet distribution of those publications continue. 

After receiving no response from Kroger, he contacted New York City’s comptroller’s office, which has a policy prohibiting the city from investing in any company that engages in discrimination. 

The comptroller’s office contacted Kroger executives informing them that the New York City’s teacher’s union had a $90,000,000 stake in their company that they may be forced to sell unless distribution of the newspaper was allowed. 

Within days Kroger executives flew out on the company jet from Cincinnati to Nashville to apologize to Out and About’ publisher Jerry Jones and to inform him that the publication was welcome in all Kroger stores.

Back at the Greenbrier Kroger, Laurence W. from Gallatin, said he was in town to help his best friend prepare for a drag show. “This means so much to me. You know, Tennessee is not such a bad place. What’s happening here is old people shit. They can’t stand our entire generation or new comers. But soon they will find out we are the majority, I hope.” 

A 2022 Vanderbilt graduate, he winced a little and clarified: “Well, it will take a while and there’s going to be a lot more shit to come down.”

When asked if he thought the Kroger display was something to be proud of, he said. “It is but I am also surprised by it. It means so much to me that in this storm we have powerful allies.”

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6 killed in shooting at Christian school in Nashville

The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville who, according to police, identifies as transgender

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Covenant School, Covenant Presbyterian Church, on Burton Hills Dr. in Nashville, Tennessee (Photo Credit: Nashville Metro Police Dept.)

NASHVILLE – In a press conference Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters that earlier Monday morning a 28-year-old local female armed with two “assault-type rifles and a handgun,” was killed by responding officers.

“At one point she was a student at that school,” Chief Drake told reporters hours after the shooting at The Covenant School. “But unsure what year […] but that’s what I’ve been told so far.”

The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville, who according to the chief, identifies as transgender.

According to Drake three children and three adults were killed in the shooting at The Covenant School on Burton Hills Boulevard, a private Christian school.

Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser told reporters “We can now confirm 3 children and 2 adults from the school shooting were transported to our Adult Emergency Department (The 2 adults) and (The 3 children) to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital,” Howser said adding “All 5 patients have been pronounced dead.”

Police identified the three slain students as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9.

The three faculty members killed were Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill, both 61, and school head Katherine Koonce, 60.

At his only scheduled public event at the White House, President Joe Biden called the shooting “sick” and renewed his call for Congress to ban assault weapons.

President Biden speaking on the Nashville shooting Monday morning via NBC News

Chief Drake noted that the shooter was killed on the school’s second floor by his officers acknowledging that the victims were students and staff members of the school.

Nashville Police Chief John Drake speaking on the Nashville shooting Monday morning via NBC News

The school has students from preschool through sixth grade and on a normal day has about 200 students and 40 staff members on campus.

In a statement, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted: “I am closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant. As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community.”

NBC News reported that just days ago, a 17-year-old suspect wounded two administrators at a Denver high school before he was found dead.

In February, three students were gunned down at Michigan State University. And in January, two students were fatally shot at a charter school in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Washington Post and other media outlets reporting that Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-Tenn.), who represents the Nashville district where the Covenant School is located, said Monday in a statement that he was “utterly heartbroken” by the mass shooting.

Gun reform activists including Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, have called out Ogles for his hypocrisy posting tweets of Ogles posing with his children all carrying assault rifles in a 2021 family Christmas card photo:

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NBC News: Tennessee drag ban is ‘fearmongering’

Tennessee became the first state to pass a law that will restrict drag performances on public property or anywhere a child could see them

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt March 3, 2023

NASHVILLE – (NBC Nightly News) Tennessee became the first state to pass a law that will restrict drag performances on public property or anywhere a child could see them. NBC News’ Antonia Hylton spoke with State Senator Jack Johnson, the bill’s sponsor, and Deedee, a drag performer, who calls the legislation “fearmongering.”

Tennessee passes law restricting drag shows in public spaces:

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Tennessee enacts drag ban & criminalizes violations

According to the law first-time violators may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail

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Photo of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s 1977 Franklin High School yearbook picture (Page 165) of his drag performance captioned “Hard Luck Woman.” (Public Domain)

NASHVILLE – Senate Bill 3, which prohibits drag shows labeled as “adult cabaret performances” from taking place within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks or places of worship was signed Thursday into by Republican Governor Bill Lee, effective April 1.

One of the lead sponsors of the measure state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R) told reporters, “The bill specifically protects children from obscene, sexualized entertainment, and any attempt to conflate this serious issue with lighthearted school traditions is dishonest and disrespectful to Tennessee families.”

According to the law first-time violators may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. Any subsequent offenses will be classified as a Class E felony, carrying a maximum six-year prison sentence.

On Monday the picture showing the then future governor in drag was published on Twitter and when asked by reporters about the picture; “What a ridiculous, ridiculous question that is,” Lee responded. “Conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children … which is a very serious subject.”

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Tennessee bans gender-affirming health care for Trans youth

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Lambda Legal have promised legal action against SB 1

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Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee (Screenshot/YouTube TN State government TV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Taking away the freedom of families of transgender youth to seek critical health care, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed into law today a ban on all forms of gender-affirming care for transgender people under 18 — putting the government in charge of making vital decisions traditionally reserved to parents in Tennessee. The law takes effect on July 1, 2023.

Under the new law, trans youth already receiving gender-affirming health care as of July 1, 2023 will be forced to lose access to such care after March 31, 2024, in Tennessee. Youth not receiving medical care by July 1, 2023 will be unable to begin receiving care in Tennessee.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Lambda Legal issued the following response:

“We will not allow this dangerous law to stand. Certain politicians and Gov. Lee have made no secret of their intent to discriminate against youth who are transgender or their willful ignorance about the life-saving health care they seek to ban. Instead, they’ve chosen fearmongering, misrepresentations, intimidation, and extremist politics over the rights of families and the lives of transgender youth in Tennessee. We are dedicated to overturning this unconstitutional law and are confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending it in court. We want transgender youth to know they are not alone and this fight is not over.”

All three organizations have promised legal action against SB 1, and similar restrictions in Alabama and Arkansas have been enjoined by federal courts. Tennessee is the fourth state in this legislative session to ban gender-affirming care for people under 18, following bans signed into law in Utah, South Dakota, and Mississippi.

Molly Rose Quinn, the Executive Director of Out Memphis said in an emailed statement:

“To the youth of Tennessee and to the parents that support them, I want you to always remember that no matter what happens in life you are amazing, you are beautiful, worthy of joy, happiness, and respect. Do not ever allow anyone to tear you down mentally or physically, always demand respect and don’t accept anything less. The world is cruel but you are stronger, you can overcome anything just don’t ever give up or quit, remember there is always a rainbow after the storm.”

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Tennessee is one-step closer to criminalizing public drag shows

LGBTQ advocates & drag performers said the bill will target vulnerable communities and may have a chilling effect on artistic performances

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Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville (Photo Credit: State of Tennessee)

NASHVILLE – Republican lawmakers on Thursday passed House Bill 9 which would ban would drag performances from public property or in a location where they could be viewed by minors.

The legislation classifies “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers and bans “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors,” as defined under the state’s obscenity law.

HB9 was sponsored by Rep. Chris Todd, (R-Madison County) who led an anti-LGBTQ+ campaign against Jackson Tennessee Pride last October 8. The Pride festival was scheduled the to be held at Conger Park, but after Todd stepped in opposing the venue and in particular the scheduled drag show, organizers shifted it to the Civic Center running a check IDs of those who want to re-enter to ensure drag show attendees were 18 or older.

Todd and his supporters were able to take the Pride organizers and the city into court were an agreement was reached.

Rep. Chris Todd, (R-Madison County)
(Screenshot Memphis TV Station WJHL 11)

In the case of the legislation, Memphis TV Station WJHL 11 reported

House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 3 would ban those performances from public property or in a location where they could be viewed by minors. The bill addresses performances like “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”

The bill passed as amended with 74 in favor and 19 against. News Channel 11 reached out to the office of Governor Bill Lee regarding the bill. A spokesperson for Lee said he intended to sign it when it came to his desk.

The bill now returns to the state senate for a procedural concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk, possibly as soon as Friday.

LGBTQ advocates and drag performers have said the bill will target vulnerable communities and may have a chilling effect on artistic performances. At least one Republican on the committee also raised questions about the potential impact on other types of entertainment, such as professional wrestling and major performing artists.

Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, argued Thursday the state already has profanity laws on the books.

“If you’re obscene in front of children, that’s illegal, right? If you wear leather pants and you’re obscene in front of children, you’ll get arrested, right?” Johnson said.

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Vanderbilt U. Medical Center pauses gender-affirming surgeries

VUMC is the only healthcare provider in the state offering clinical care programs for trans & gender-expansive children & adolescents

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube WTVF News Channel 5 Nashville)

NASHVILLE – In a letter sent out Friday to Tennessee State Rep. Jason Zachary and more than 60 of his Republican colleagues, all of whom called on Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Pediatric Transgender Clinic to stop all gender-affirming surgeries, VUMC announced the hospital was pausing those surgeries pending further review.

“We are pausing gender affirmation surgeries on patients under age 18 while we complete this review, which may take several months,” wrote C. Wright Pinson, VUMC’s deputy CEO and chief health system officer.

Last week Zachary and his Republican colleagues sent a letter to addressed to the chair of the hospital’s board of directors calling on Vanderbilt to halt the Clinic’s trans youth healthcare regarding gender affirming treatments.

The letter came a few days after Republican Governor Bill Lee called for an investigation into the clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in a statement after reporting by transphobic and homophobic far-right pundit Matt Walsh on his Daily Wire show.

“The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Governor Lee said in his statement. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”

In line with the earlier attacks on Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Washington D.C.’s Children’s with misinformation and misleading characterizations of the trans youth health care provided by those facilities, in a lengthy thread Twitter the Daily Wire’s Walsh had attacked Vanderbilt’s clinic.

According to The Associated Press, Emails provided to The AP through a public records request show hundreds of Tennesseans reached out to the governor’s office in support of shutting down VUMC’s transgender youth health clinic, with some asking him to call a special legislative session to address the issue. Others asked if he could suspend the licenses of the doctors who work at the clinic.

A few criticized Lee for not taking harsher steps earlier when he signed legislation banning doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment to prepubescent minors.

Only a handful defended the clinic’s services, with some saying the transgender health care they received had been life-saving.

The Tennessee Equality Project notes that the clinic is the only healthcare provider in the state offering clinical care programs for transgender and gender-expansive children and adolescents.

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Tennessee Pride festival: ID check required for drag show

The drag performance was slated to be an event billed as family friendly, open to all, but organizers forced to change plans after complaints

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

JACKSON, Tn. – After a Facebook post and an anti-LGBTQ+ campaign led by Republican State Rep. Chris Todd, the organisers of Jackson TN Pride, which kicks off today, will clear the indoor Civic Center of attendees and then readmit people for the drag show with proper ID showing that they are 18 years or older.

In his Facebook post Todd warned that if the city’s mayor or other city officials approved (allowed) this event, “then they are clearly ignoring the law.” Todd then cites a state statute that references ‘adult-oriented establishment or adult cabaret’ which he claims applies to the drag performance.

The drag performance was slated to be an event billed as family friendly, open to all, however at 7 p.m. on Saturday the organizers will have to clear out the Civic Center and then check IDs of those who want to re-enter to ensure drag show attendees are 18 or older.

Darin Hollingsworth, a Jackson Pride Committee member, told NBC News Out that organizers were “horribly disappointed,” because they know local LGBTQ youths would have felt supported at the drag performance.

We’re devastated, because we know that young people in their teens who are queer or questioning or supportive would love to see this, and parents could have brought them,” Hollingsworth said. “But we will be in contempt if we even allow parents to bring in their child, so we won’t.”

Hollingsworth said the pride event had been in the works for a year, and Jackson Pride had advertised it repeatedly. The event began to face backlash after the Sept. 17 Facebook post from Todd.

On September 27, a week after Todd’s post which created a firestorm of criticism from both those opposed to the event and its supporters, a private meeting was held at City Hall to discuss the drag show ABC News affiliate WBBJ 7 reported.

“Starting at 9 o’clock, there was a meeting that the mayor called to bring all the sides together concerning the October the 8th Pride event that is to be held at Conger Park,” said Teresa Luna, an attorney for City of Jackson.

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger, Todd, another Republican state Rep. Ed Jackson, attorneys for the state, members of the Jackson Pride Committee, officials from the local First United Methodist Church were present at the meeting. 

This is an event that is allowed by federal, state and local law,” Luna added continuing; “We’ve done the research, we can find no federal, state or local law preventing the Pride event from occurring.

There were assurances from the Jackson Pride group that it was going to be a G-rated event, that there would be no nudity, nothing that would be of sexual offense to anyone, so I think that misconception was cleared up as well,” said Luna.

The outcome of that meeting in favour of the Pride organisers angered Todd and the others who filed a legal complaint against the city of Jackson in the Chancery Court for Madison County, Tennessee claiming that holding the drag show in the Civic Center would violate state law as pertaining to “adult entertainment.”

NBC Out noted that complaint read: “Plaintiffs who worship at First United Methodist Church will suffer imminent and irreparable injury if this injunction is not granted as an adult cabaret will be featured within 1,000 feet of their house of worship.

Plaintiffs have a high probability of success on the merits, injury to the Plaintiffs will be substantial, while the injury to the Defendant is minimal as this Complaint does not seek to cancel the Jackson Pride event, but rather prevent the drag show from occurring, and the public interest will be best served by granting this injunction.” 

Before the a scheduled hearing Friday, Stella Yarbrough, the legal director for the ACLU of Tennessee along with Jackson’s City Attorney Lewis Cobb hammered out the compromise that required clearing the Center of anyone under the age of 18 to prevent their attendance at the drag venue.

Yarbrough released a statement noting that the compromise agreement will still allow Jackson Pride “to create a welcoming event that celebrates the diversity and expression of all community members.”

Todd on a Facebook post Friday after the agreement was worked out claimed victory in part reading: “By taking the issue to court, we have succeeded in having the city and the group agree to several restrictions after challenging city leaders to answer questions about why they would allow our children to be exposed to this kind of outrageous adult performance. By agreeing to the restrictions, they have effectively acknowledged that what they were promoting was way out of line. As I have stated before, this is an unlawful event. We had “right” on our side.”

 

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