Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Matching Our Moment: Double your impact between now and Dec. 31!

MATCHING OUR MOMENT! Between now and December 31 all your tax deductible contributions to the TEP Foundation at this link are matched up to a total of $4000. DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT. Thanks to the generous donors who have stepped forward to provide the match. SHARE!

Friday, June 20, 2014

TEP PAC Endorsements for Shelby County Government on August 7

TEP PAC is pleased to announce the following endorsements of candidates running for offices in Shelby County government in the August 7, 2014 election. TEP PAC encourages you to vote for, volunteer for, and contribute to these equality advocates (click names with links for candidate information):

MAYOR – Deidre Malone
SHERIFF – Bill Oldham
DISTRICT 1 SCHOOL BOARD - Freda Garner-William

Each candidate submitted a survey to TEP PAC for review and asked for TEP PAC’s endorsement. All candidates for Shelby County Mayor, Sheriff, Board of Commissioners, Clerk and School Board were invited to participate in the survey by letters mailed to the address listed on their petitions with the Shelby County Election Commission.

Early Voting begins July 18, 2014 at 157 Poplar Avenue and continues through August 2, 2014. Visit the Shelby County Election Commission website for more details about the full August 7 ballot and voting locations, dates and times.

Yours for equality,

H.G. Stovall

TEP PAC is a state political action committee registered in Tennessee (Joyce Peacock, Treasurer). The endorsements of TEP PAC do not necessarily represent the views of the board of the Tennessee Equality Project.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shelby County Schools quietly enacted LGBT-inclusive protections in June of 2013

Did you know that when the Memphis City Schools were absorbed into the Shelby County School system, MCS students lost enumerated anti-bullying protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression?

Anti-bullying protections weren't fully enumerated in Shelby County School policy at the time of unification.

In response, Tammy Ferguson Green (mother of a Shelby County School student) and Bri Kirwan (a Shelby County School student) spoke to the unified Memphis and Shelby County School Board on September 27, 2012 to urge revision of the anti-bullying policy.

Guess what? They listened.

It appears that the policy was quietly revised in June 2013 to include LGBT-inclusive protections against bullying.

Thanks Tammy! Thanks Bri!

Watch their presentation from September 27, 2012 below:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Senators Stacey Campfield and Brian Kelsey to elope to Massachusetts

Senators Stacey Campfield
& Brian Kelsey to tie the knot.
(4.1.2014) reports that Tennessee Senators Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) plan to marry after the 108th Tennessee General Assembly session adjourns this spring.

Capitol insiders revealed their secret plan to elope to the State of Massachusetts late yesterday. The couple plans to marry in a closed ceremony over Memorial Day weekend at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury in Martha’s Vineyard. A West Tisbury office clerk, who grew up with Senator Kelsey at MUS High School in Memphis accidentally leaked the clandestine arrangements when confirming the wedding date with Senator Kelsey’s legislative assistant.

When asked about the wedding, Senator Kelsey stated, “Stacey and I just couldn’t wait any longer for full marriage equality to arrive in Tennessee.”

The happy couple plans to honeymoon in Provincetown following the ceremony.

A Nashville area realtor confirmed Tuesday morning that Kelsey and Campfield recently signed a contract on a quaint little bungalow in East Nashville. The couple looks forward to filling their home with arts and crafts furniture and hosting hot tub parties on the deck of their back yard this summer.

Registry listings for Campfield and Kelsey appear on the websites of Crate & Barrel, IKEA and Restoration Hardware. When asked about possible wedding gift options for the couple, Campfield stated that their “gift registries are really for close family and friends. I encourage marriage equality supporters to donate gifts in our honor to Tennessee Equality Project at”

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, leader of the State Senate, promised to host a wedding reception for the couple at the beginning of the 109th Tennessee General Assembly in Senate Chambers.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Protection from Bullying (but not for LGBT kids)

HB 927 is the Dignity for All Students Act.  I helped write it.  I have a deeply personal reason for promoting it.  But there are people in the TNGA trying to push a TOOTHLESS, VAGUE bill to replace it with one that does NOTHING to protect ALL kids from bullying.

Question: Why would anyone have a problem with a bill to help stop bullying in school?

Answer: Because the Dignity for All Students Act includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the enumerated categories of kids that are most often bullied.

Apparently to SOME people, LGBT kids don’t warrant protections from bullying, so those people (who believe so strongly that have some sort of religious ‘right’ to bully LGBT kids) will not extend protections to them or any other vulnerable child.  No, THOSE people don’t want to define bullying…because they know they do it themselves.

Adults are supposed to set an example.  Our legislature has set an example that promotes bullying LGBT kids for YEARS.  Don’t Say Gay bills, Turn Away the Gays bill this year, the License to Bully bill…the example that these adults has set breeds bullying.  No wonder they don’t want to protect LGBT kids in school…that might mean that the next generation grows up without the prejudices and bile that drive these discriminatory bills.  Oh, the HORROR.  KIDS MIGHT LEARN TO TREAT PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT WITH RESPECT FOR THEIR COMMON HUMANITY!!!!! 

The Tennessee Department of Education issued a report confirming 5,478 acts of bullying took place during the 2012-2013 school year, and that number only includes the bullying that was actually reported. Over 5000 cases reported...and who knows how many went unreported?


5000 kids who were disturbed enough by bullying in their school environment that they needed an adult to intervene.  Let that sink in.

As a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism as they now label it, my child's perspective on the world is vastly different from that of that of a non-autistic adult teacher.

If my child feels threatened or victimized, I certainly do not want some adult telling him his concerns do not matter and to deal with the situation on his own.  I want my son to trust that a teacher will intervene and protect him if he needs and asks for an adult's help.  Because ASKING FOR HELP IS WHAT WE HAVE TAUGHT HIM TO DO!  We have told him to find an adult if he or someone else is being bullied.

The sad thing?  He doesn't trust the adults to intervene.  Why should he?  He has been bullied, and seen kids get bullied, and nothing was done about it. 

You know what?  I don’t trust all adults to intervene either.  We have seen it happen over and over in Tennessee where a school has failed to protect an LGBT student from bullying.  We have seen it end in suicide more than once. 

Remember Jacob Rogers of Cheatham County and Phillip Parker of Gordonsville?  Google them.  Just Google them. 

Google this too “LGBT suicide Tennessee” and tell me that gay kids don’t need protection from bullies.  Then tell me that schools should be allowed to decide what defines bullying and decide how to address bullying in any way they want to handle it.  That’s what Rep. Mark White of Memphis thinks should happen.  Because, obviously, that has worked SO WELL IN THE PAST!!!

Because Rep. White thinks the adults should determine when the bullying is “bad”, not the victim.  Because if the adults in charge don’t care about LGBT kids getting bullied, then they shouldn't have to protect them.


ALL children deserve a safe educational environment.  Period.   Parent should be able to trust that the adults, in whose charge they leave their kids every morning, are going to protect them from harassment and intimidation that interferes with their learning environment without imposing a subjective view of how "bad" it may be from an adult perspective. 

They should be able to trust that the adults who are in charge are being consistent and following set guidelines for their safety. 

Clear consistent guidelines are needed across the state.  Our bill provides that consistency across the state where Rep. White’s ambiguous bill (HB 2122) does not.  We saw it in committee last year when lawmakers looked back fondly on bullying and being bullied in school...leaving the definition of bullying up to adults in charge means subjective interpretation of what is harmful to the victim, based not on the victims perspective, but on the opinion of adults who are not the target of the acts. 

Enumerating these categories provides consistency and protects victims from arbitrary value judgments on the part of adults about the student's experience, and that is precisely why TENNESSEE NEEDS HB 927 to make our schools safe educational environments for All Students.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Media Advisory: Over 100 in red to protest "Turn the Gays Away" bill on Tuesday

Media Advisory:  Over 100 in red to protest “Turn the Gays Away” bill at Senate Judiciary hearing on Tuesday

Feb. 17, 2014

CONTACT:           Chris Sanders
                              (615) 390-5252

Nashville, TN (February 18, 2014)—Over 100 Tennesseans will protest SB2566, commonly known as the Turn the Gays Away bill, by wearing red during the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 18 at Legislative Plaza. 

“The bill’s language is so broad that it is unclear which goods and services may be included and under what circumstances; the fact that an amendment to tighten the language is being proposed confirms that,” according to Tennessee Equality Project executive director Chris Sanders.  “Regardless of whether the bill applies to wedding cakes or to groceries, it is an effort to say state government can pick which groups of people that businesses and organizations can discriminate against.  The nationwide outrage is understandable.”

Red became a symbol of marriage equality in the lead up to the 2013 Windsor Supreme Court decision that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Find the Facebook event showing the number of RSVPs at .

WHEN:  Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Central Time

WHERE:  Legislative Plaza in Nashville, Room 12LP

WHY:  To protest the state sanctioning discrimination against same-sex couples

WHO:  The Tennessee Equality Project, Tennessee citizens concerned about the legislation


Thursday, February 6, 2014

TEP Foundation Completes LGBTQ training of Shelby County Sheriff Officers

Tennessee Equality Project Foundation completed a series of four LGBTQ cultural competency classes for the upper command staff and academy instructors of the Shelby County Sheriff Department today. The training is designed to empower Shelby County Sheriff officers to provide professional and respectful treatment of the public without bias toward  LGBTQ people. Over 100 staff attended the training over two weeks. TEP Foundation certified Sheriff Academy instructors in the diversity course one week ago. Those instructors will train law enforcement and correctional officers in the coming year.

TEP Foundation's relationship with the Shelby County Sheriff Department began in December 2011 when a group of Sheriff Academy corrections graduates received a half-day training in LGBTQ cultural competency. A renewed interest in the training followed Shelby County Sheriff participation in the Community Police Relations (CPR) project - a "partnership between citizens and law enforcement officers that is challenging both groups to overcome their differences and distrust to work together on the deepest problems of our community."

Duanna Johnson
One of the CPR forums organized by the Midsouth Peace and Justice Center focused on the concerns of LGBTQ residents in Shelby County. Members of the community in Memphis and Shelby County reported anti-LGBTQ bias and disparate treatment during police stops and in correctional facilities. Law enforcement mistreatment of transgender people of color has captured headlines in Memphis in the past. The best known example involved the 2008 beating of Duanna Johnson by a Memphis Police Officer in the Shelby County Jail at 201 Poplar Avenue (a facility operated by the Shelby County Sheriff).

The MPD officer used anti-trans language and physical violence to gain compliance from Duanna after she was detained. Duanna suffered serious injuries. The offending officer was later terminated from the police department and served time in a Federal penitentiary. The City of Memphis awarded civil damages in a court settlement to the estate of Duanna Johnson (now deceased).

To his credit, Sheriff William Oldham is taking a proactive approach to prevent past abuses from happening again. He's ordered all his staff to be trained in LGBTQ cultural competency. The TEP Foundation applauds his leadership. If his officers apply the training, the public will experience more professional and respectful law enforcement and correctional officers, and the Shelby County Sheriff Department will significantly reduce the potential cost of civil rights lawsuits, personnel discipline, and termination of highly trained officers.

TEP Foundation provided training to the Shelby County Sheriff Department without charge. If you'd like to donate to the Foundation to help cover the cost of this and future training in Tennessee, visit the Foundation's donation page or click the "Donate Now" button on the right side of this page (desktop version only). 

Many thanks to TEP Foundation Board member Anne Gullick and TEP Foundation Executive Director Chris Sanders for facilitating this training.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Red Alert Parties across Tennessee to mark return of the Legislature

Today the Tennessee Equality Project is hosting Red Alert parties in Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville to mark the return of the Legislature.  Mostly social affairs, the events will include some information on the upcoming legislative session as well as Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, which takes place on March 11.

Memphis:  RSVP and learn more at this link

Knoxville:  RSVP and learn more at this link.

Nashville:  RSVP and learn more at this link

There's no charge to attend, but party goers are encouraged to wear red.  The second year of the 108th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee convenes the next day on Tuesday, January 14 at Noon.