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GLAAD RESPONDS TO REINSTATEMENT OF TENNESSEE LAWMAKERS AND COMMUNITY UPRISING AGAINST LGBTQ ATTACKS AT THE TENNESSEE STATEHOUSE
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
(New York, NY, April 13, 2023) GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the reinstatement of Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones to the Tennessee legislature and growing chorus of citizens speaking up for equality and safety, and against state sponsored discrimination including legislative proposals targeting LGBTQ people, essential healthcare, drag performance, and Pride celebrations.
Rep. Pearson was sworn in again this morning, joining Jones in a return to their elected seats.
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD responded on Instagram and here:
“When We the People speak up as powerfully as those in Tennessee have, extremist lawmakers can’t help but hear. From the youth who came out in force to demand gun safety reform, to Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Gloria Johnson, and Rep. Justin Jones using their platforms to lead for equality and action, to Franklin residents who showed up to support Franklin Pride, their words, advocacy, and bravery are not only inspiring, they’re contagious. Tennessee’s discriminatory and harmful drag ban is on hold and other dangerous anti-LGBTQ legislation is rightfully getting more scrutiny there and in many other states. It takes every voice. Tennessee is a turning point and we will not go back. Every state is on notice.”
Developments in Tennessee:
- Tennessee Republicans expelled Rep. Jones and Rep. Pearson from the state legislature for their role in a protest calling for gun safety reform following a deadly school shooting in Nashville. Protesters in the gallery, many of whom were students, shouted “Shame! Shame!” following the expulsion vote.
- Protesters had flooded Tennessee’s state house to demand gun reform measures following the shooting that killed three 9-year-old children and three adults. Johnson and Jones were reappointed by their county board and city council but will need to run for re-election in upcoming special elections.
- Franklin Pride will return this June after the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen narrowly approved the festival in a 5-4 vote after hundreds came to testify in support.
- A federal judge temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a newly-passed law banning public drag performances, just a few hours before the law was to take effect.
More than 400 bills being considered in state legislatures, including Tennessee, directly target LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.
- Gun safety—A recent GLAAD poll indicated that 72% of transgender respondents and 48% of LGBTQ community overall say the current political environment makes them fear for their personal safety. LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to be hurt or threatened by a weapon at school than their straight and cisgender peers.
- School safety—LGBTQ youth affirmed at their schools and in their communities reported lower rates of suicide attempts. 71% reported feeling good about being LGBTQ when non-LGBTQ celebrities advocate for LGBTQ people.
- Abortion—According to an ABC News poll, 70% of Americans say that the decision to have an abortion procedure should be made between a patient and their doctor, and the majority specifically oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.
- Healthcare—Efforts to ban and criminalize healthcare for transgender people and youth (like a bill passed into law in Tennessee) are not based on medical or scientific expertise. Every major medical association supports this healthcare as essential and lifesaving. Statements here.
- Free speech and expression, including at drag shows—Drag is under attack across the country, with bills to criminalize performers and venues, and protests, threats, and unprecedented violent attacks.
- GLAAD’s Guide for Media Covering State Legislation Targeting LGBTQ People
- GLAAD Media Reference Guide regarding drag performance and other best practices recommendations for reporting on the LGBTQ community
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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