Adding to the charming nature of the new transphobic Tennessee “bathroom bill,” it turns out that a co-sponsor of the legislation is facing pressure to resign because of his history of alleged sexual harassment.
According to Advocate, Tennessee Republican Representative Jeremy Durham is one of the sponsors of the House Bill 2414 that passed in the House of Education Administration and Planning Committee last week. HB 2414 and its companion, Senate Bill 2387, aim to prohibit transgender students in public elementary, secondary schools, colleges, and universities or institutions of higher education, from using the bathrooms or lockers that they identify with from a gender point of view. The bills are very similar and almost carbon-copies of the anti-LGBT laws that were recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi.
Supporters of bathroom bills often point to the already disproven argument that says allowing transgender people access to the bathroom they identify with would place women and girls in danger of harassment or violence by men who are “pretending” to be transgender.
Tennessee’s House speaker, Republican Rep. Beth Harwell, recently announced that she’s moving Durham’s office across the street and limiting his access to the House floor, CBS News reports. Harwell’s actions follow an investigation into Durham’s conduct by the state attorney general, which included testimonies by 34 women, including politicians, lobbyists, and various staffers. Reports of harassing text messages and sexually suggestive in-person behavior dogged Durham, with some women saying he plied them for their contact information; others said they were fearful of being alone with him. Many women hesitated in reporting the behavior because they feared losing their jobs or being seen as “untrustworthy” by their superiors.
Durham has since denied any all allegations towards him.
“I know for a fact I’ve never sexually harassed anybody,” he told WTVF. “If I’ve sent a text message that I shouldn’t have and someone will present it to me I’m happy to address it, and I’ll take responsibility.”
Durham since resigned his position as House Majority Whip.
As more people come forward with accusations against Dunham, Tennessee’s LGBT community waits for the final word on HB 2414. According to the Nashville Mayor, the Tenn. bill could cost the state around $58 million.