Several Tennessee families suing Gov. Bill Lee over opt-out order


FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville, Tenn. A federal appeals court ruled Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well prohibit the procedure if it is based on the race or gender of the fetus. Earlier this year, Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure that he signed earlier this year. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two Shelby County families have filed a lawsuit stating the executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates violates the American with Disabilities Act.

Filed Friday, the lawsuit names Gov. Bill Lee and Shelby County as defendants and two Shelby County students, represented by their parents, as the plaintiffs.

The suit states Executive Order No. 84 has “inhibited the ability of the citizens of Shelby County, Tennessee and their elected and appointed government officials from taking the necessary collective action of masking in order to protect each other and those most vulnerable to COVID19.”

The lawsuit also states by issuing the order, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has forced parents of medically vulnerable children to decide whether to keep their children at home or “risk placing them in an environment that presents a serious risk to their health and safety.”

The suit states one of the plaintiffs, a 13-year-old boy who attends West Middle School in Collierville, is reportedly unable to wear a mask due to his physical disability and “must rely on his community to take steps to protect him from infection from COVID-19.”

The other plaintiff, a Houston Middle School student, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 Monday after being exposed to an unmasked student who was sick with COVID-19.

The suit states the plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order stopping Lee from enforcing the order. They are also seeking as an injunction against Shelby County ordering it to enforce its county-wide mask mandate without the exception ordered by Executive Order No. 84.

This is the second lawsuit against Lee in two days. Thursday, Shelby County filed suit against Lee over the opt-out order. The county’s suit claims the order violates the 14th amendment because children who are not eligible to be vaccinated don’t have a way to protect themselves against COVID exposure without a mask.

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