A federal judge on Friday blocked a Tennessee law that required business owners to post signs outside gendered bathrooms if the business allowed people to use them according to their gender identity.
Tennessee’s Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill earlier this year, and it was swiftly signed by Gov. Bill Lee (R), who claimed that it promoted “equality.”
Yet LGBTQ advocates and their allies say the law discriminates against the transgender community, given that it targets people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. The law also applies to locker rooms and changing rooms.
The law is reportedly the first restriction of bathroom use by transgender people to be signed in any state in five years, according to The Associated Press. But it is one of many pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation being pushed by Republicans across the country.
Tennessee’s law requires the signs to be at least 8 inches wide and 6 inches high, reading: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation of the restroom.”
In her ruling, Judge Aleta Trauger dismantled the GOP argument that the law prevents sexual predators from assaulting restroom users, pointing out the lack of evidence of any such attacks and the lack of proof that the signs would address the issue even if there were evidence of sexual predators abusing private bathroom policies.
Trauger, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, also determined that the law raises significant First Amendment concerns. She declared that the plaintiffs will likely succeed in their suit against the state.
The businesses challenging the law include a limited liability company operating several cafes and restaurants that have both employed transgender people and served transgender people, according to the lawsuit. The other business is a performing arts venue called Sanctuary that was founded by, and caters to, members of the local transgender community.
They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The businesses say they are worried about driving customers away with the required signs or causing confusion.