NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tennessee state lawmakers passed a bill Monday that would prohibit transgender middle and high school athletes from participating in sports based on their gender identity.
The bill “requires, for the purposes of participation in a middle school or high school interscholastic athletic activity or event, that a student’s gender be determined by the student’s sex at the time of the student’s birth, as indicated on the student’s original birth certificate,” according to a summary of the bill.
Supporters have said the bill is necessary to protect fairness in competition while opponents have said the measure is discriminatory and a solution in search of a problem.
The head of the ACLU of Tennessee issued this statement after the bill’s passage:
“Today’s vote by state legislators embedding discrimination against transgender youth into state law is shameful. Transgender girls do not threaten women’s sports. Even the bill sponsors have admitted that they do not know of a single instance of a Tennessee student facing any harm from a transgender athlete playing sports. Transgender girls are girls. Transgender boys are boys. They simply want to participate in school sports for the same reason as anybody else: to find a sense of belonging and social engagement with their peers, to be a part of a team, and to challenge themselves. With this discriminatory and unconstitutional bill, lawmakers have now compromised trans children’s health, social and emotional development, and safety. Instead of focusing on fear-based myths, our state should focus on the actual issues with gender parity in sports when it comes to funding, resources, pay equity, and more. Promoting baseless fears about trans athletes does nothing to address those very real problems. We urge Governor Lee to reverse course and veto this bill or – should any transgender student be excluded because of this new law – we will see him in court.”Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director
The legislation now heads to Gov. Bill Lee, who said in February that transgender girls will “destroy women’s sports” if allowed to participate.