Tennessee Moves To Defend Laws Shielding Kids From Trans Procedures, Explicit Performances
Bill Lee, governor of Tennessee, listens during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, July 10, 2021. The three-day conference is titled "America UnCanceled."
Photographer: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti took action on Friday to defend state laws protecting children from life-altering transgender procedures and sexually explicit performances, after judges limited both measures. 

The legal moves from Skrmetti come after portions of two laws passed by the Tennessee legislature were blocked in the last month by federal judges. First, U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker ruled that a law shielding children from being exposed to “adult cabaret” performances, including sexually explicit drag shows, was unconstitutional. Then on June 29, U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson placed a temporary injunction against the ban on giving children cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers, 

Both laws passed with widespread support this year in the Tennessee legislature, where Republicans have a supermajority of seats. 

On Friday, Skrmetti filed a notice of appeal against Parker’s ruling striking down the law related to sexually explicit performances, which Parker claimed was “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.”

“The language defining ‘harmful to minors’ that the court found unconstitutionally vague has appeared in various parts of the Tennessee code for 33 years and is found in other laws that prevent adults from grooming kids with pornography, strip clubs from opening next to schools, and schools from letting kids access pornography on the school internet,” Skrmetti said. “We’re appealing to ensure Tennessee’s laws continue to protect Tennessee’s kids.”

In a separate legal action, Skrmetti filed a motion for an emergency stay from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after Richardson placed a temporary injunction on Tennessee’s prohibition of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for children, which have been shown to have life-altering impacts. 

“If Tennessee wishes to regulate access to certain medical procedures, it must do so in a manner that does not infringe on the rights conferred by the United States Constitution, which is of course supreme to all other laws of the land. With regard to SB1, Tennessee has likely failed to do just this,” Richardson wrote in his ruling.


Richardson’s ruling just temporarily blocks the law, which was set to go into effect on July 1, but will now be held while a suit against the law is adjudicated.

“Until the American medical establishment catches up with the rest of the world on this issue, we will continue to defend the General Assembly’s authority to protect children from these irreversible harms,” Skrmetti said

Federal judges have blocked similar state laws in Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, and Arkansas.

Related: Matt Walsh Deconstructs ‘Astonishingly Bad’ Ruling Blocking Ban On Minor Sex-Change Procedures

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