TN Advocates Highlight Book Ban, Title IX at Franklin Pride

TN Advocates Highlight Book Ban, Title IX at Franklin Pride

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – To kick off Pride Month, hundreds showed out to support the LGBTQ+ community at the fourth annual Franklin Pride event.

During the event on Saturday, June 1, the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) worked to raise awareness about several challenges currently facing students in our state.

The TEP highlighted a report published on Friday, May 31 that studies the statewide book ban. The study found that Maury, Rutherford and Wilson counties had some of the highest concentrations of book bans.

“Pride is a celebration of identity, but when people try to ban books about you, that’s erasing your identity, so this is an important issue for Pride,” said TEP Executive Director Chris Sanders.

In Wilson County, the study found that about 25% of all public comment discussions at school board meetings focused on book reviews. However, in light of those discussions, Wilson County parent Erin Moore appreciated the balance her district had struck in allowing parents to give their students permission to view books considered mature.

“Most of these books are just important themes, sometimes they’re difficult themes, but they’re important themes if we want well-rounded adults to enter the world,” Moore said.

Additionally, the TEP highlighted the debate over the newly revised Title IX rules announced by the Biden administration. The new rules would expand protections for LGBTQ+ students, prohibiting discrimination in education based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The administration also added new protections for victims of sexual assault.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is one of several attorneys general who sued the Department of Education, citing concerns about school bathrooms, locker rooms and sports.

A press release on the AG’s website said, in part: “If the DOE’s unauthorized rewrite of Title IX is allowed to stand, Tennessee schools will have to allow men who self-identify as “Women (at all grades, from preschool to university) use girls’ rights.” and women’s restrooms and locker rooms, play on girls’ and women’s sports teams, and access other women-only activities and spaces or risk losing billions in federal funding.”

However, LGBTQ advocates at Franklin Pride hoped the new protections would remain in place for students.

“It’s really hard to feel like they’re being legislated away, and with these expansions of Title IX, it’s just going to provide more support for LGBTQ+ students in schools, and I know that would have changed a lot for me in high school. and it would have made my experience very different,” said Eli Givens, who attended middle and high school in Williamson County.

The TEP invited the public to show their support for the new Title IX rules at the next Williamson County School Board meeting on June 17.