NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — A final vote is expected on a bill to ban transgender athletes from playing middle and high school sports.
The controversial transgender sports bill would require students to prove their sex “at the time of birth” in order to play middle and high school sports.
Representative John Ray Clemmons represents parts of Davidson County: “I think it’s very telling that the supermajority has made that their number one education bill this session.”
It’s drawing criticism from Democratic lawmakers who say the bill is a waste of time.
“We’re coming off the heels of a pandemic and we have seen significant educational issues and challenges facing our state, yet this non-issue, not a problem, is their number one priority,” Clemmons said.
Republicans including the Senate bill’s sponsor said it is an issue and he wants to prepare Tennessee for a changing nation.
“With society today and what’s happening nationally, it’s only a matter of time, it’s always better to have a policy in place before something happens,” said Senator Joey Hensley.
The Hohenwald Republican said if the bill becomes law, schools will know how to deal with this issue, despite the senator not knowing of any cases in Tennessee.
“This is an issue, I realize nationally and it may go to court, but we need to look at what’s the best policy for our Tennessee citizens,” Hensley said.
He adds the bill is about competitive fairness.
“This bill is trying to protect our middle schools and our high school female athletes,” he said.
Memphis Senator Raumesh Akbari said the bill is about hate.
“To me this is codifying hatred against a certain group of people and addressing a problem that does not yet exist,” Akbari said.
Governor Bill Lee signaled his support for the legislation saying transgender athletes will destroy women’s sports.
The ACLU Deputy Director for Trans Justice Chase Strangio released a statement saying in part:
“Today, Tennessee lawmakers voted to advance a harmful and unconstitutional bill that discriminates against transgender children by barring them from participating in the school sports that they love. Without a single example of a Tennessee student facing any harm, lawmakers still insist on leveraging these misguided attacks on some of the most vulnerable youth in the state. As an attorney currently challenging similar legislation that passed last year in Idaho and defending the rights of transgender students in courts across the country, I know that these sweeping attacks violate Title IX and the Constitution and will ultimately fail in court. Trans students belong in our schools, including on sports teams. If a trans child is excluded because of this legislation, we will see you in court.”