ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Tennessee's Restroom Sign Law
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court June 25 challenging a new, first-of-its-kind Tennessee law that would require businesses and other entities that open their facilities to the public and allow transgender people to use the restroom that matches their gender to post a government-prescribed warning sign.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kye Sayers, owner of the Sanctuary performing arts and community center in Chattanooga, and Bob Bernstein, owner of Fido restaurant in Nashville. Both businesses have informal policies allowing customers to determine which restroom is appropriate for them, and have not had any complaints or concerns raised about their restroom policies.
“Sanctuary was founded specifically to create a safe space for transgender and intersex people and their families in a state that can be unwelcoming to LGBTQ people,” said plaintiff Kye Sayers. “I am against posting offensive signs that stigmatize and deny the existence of transgender and intersex people at our center. These signs undermine Sanctuary’s very mission and send the exact opposite of the welcoming message we try to convey in everything we do.”
“As a former journalist, I believe strongly in free speech. Politicians have no right to force me to post a controversial, ideologically-motivated and inaccurate sign in my place of business,” said plaintiff Bob Bernstein. “I have worked hard to create a welcoming environment for all in the restaurants that I own, and I don’t intend to stop now.”
If the law goes into effect, any business that fails to prevent transgender and intersex people from using the restroom that most aligns with the gender to which they identify would be forced to post signs with the word “NOTICE” in yellow on a red background at the top, followed by text stating, “THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM,” or face criminal charges.