NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The first day lawmakers return for the 2024 legislative session, Tennessee Senators will begin debate on two bills the Tennessee Equality Project has included in their “slate of hate” list.

“It’s coming at as hard and fast this year, just like it did last year,” said Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders.

The LGBTQ+ advocacy group is tracking four newly introduced pieces of legislation, one they believe could be changed and eight from last year that could come back up this session.

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“Here we are again, facing more of the same,” Sanders said.

Last year, the Republican-controlled legislature passed bills limiting transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming healthcare, putting restrictions on drag performances and preventing educators from using a student’s pronouns that don’t align with their biological sex.

“The effect on communities around the state is really horrible,” Sanders said. “A number of families have had to leave the state or they have to go out of state to get gender-affirming care, or they are considering moving.”

This session, they are monitoring movement on bills that would prevent schools from hanging pride flags, allow a person to deny officiating a wedding if they object to it for religious reasons, and allow a parent to sue schools to enforce the Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022.

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“There’s no preparing for these constant attacks,” Sanders said.

State Rep. Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood) authored two of the bills on the Tennessee Equality Project’s list and said his legislation is not meant to target a specific group.

“We look at everyone as an individual and we value everyone’s life. We believe everybody is entitled to equal dignity; everybody’s entitled to love and to be loved, and we tend not to put people in the categories that progressives do, where they kind of break everybody down into being a member of this group, or that community, or this community or, or that group,” Bulso said.

In the same interview, Bulso also said he does not agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and that “transgender ideology” is an issue in schools.

Read the latest from the TN State Capitol Newsroom

“Our entire civilization in our country is built on the family and marriage being at its core, and family and marriage are actually based upon truths about the body and about sexuality, and this transgender ideology attempts to advance a position that there really is no truth, no objective truth when it comes to the body into one’s sexuality, and that somebody can actually decide for themselves what sex to be,” he said.

Sanders said he hopes for people who oppose the legislation on their list feel compelled to tell their legislators what bills they want to be prioritized this year.

“Ask your legislators why they’re spending time on these bills. Talk to them about what your priorities are, whatever they are, whether it’s roads, schools, whatever it is,” he said.