Tennessee Law Mandating Trans Restroom Warnings Prompts Lawsuit

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A new Tennessee law forcing businesses to put up warning signs if owners allow customers to use restrooms that match their gender identity triggered a federal suit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a complaint filed Friday in Nashville, the ACLU said the requirement violates the constitutional right to free speech by forcing businesses “to communicate a misleading and controversial government-mandated message that they would not otherwise display.” The law, set to take effect July 1, would make it a crime for businesses to fail to put up such a warning.

The suit was filed on behalf of a Nashville company that operates several restaurants, coffee shops and a coffee roasting company. Robert Bernstein, the founder of the company, has long employed trans workers and his customers include trans individuals, according to the suit. He is seeking an injunction to block the law.

“Mr. Bernstein has never received any complaints or concerns about their restroom policy,” the ACLU said in the lawsuit.

It’s the latest legal clash over a flood of state and local laws that target the trans community, including prohibitions on trans kids participating in sports or receiving necessary medical treatment for transitioning.

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