A Tennessee legislator wants to ban transgender students from participating in sports according to the gender with which they identify.
House Bill 15-72, or the Girls Athletic Protection Act, was introduced by Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey in December, and it’s on the legislative agenda for the new year.
The proposed legislation would require all “elementary and secondary schools that receive public funding to ensure that student athletes participate in school-sanctioned sports based on the student’s biological sex as indicated by the athlete’s original birth certificate issued at birth.”
Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said that the bill is based on “ignorance, hate and discrimination.”
“It is insulting to trans youth, it is an attack on them; their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further,” Sanders told Nashville’s WTVF.
“Some members of the General Assembly have not made an effort to understand that trans youth are a part of our school population and we need to serve and protect them like all students,” he added.
Griffey, however, maintains that the bill is not an attack on the LGBTQ community. Rather, it’s a way to “protect biological girls who want to compete against other biological girls in sports,” as he told local news station WHBQ.
A sentiment echoed by the Speaker of the Tennessee House Cameron Sexton.
“Yeah I think it’s an appropriate bill. I think saying you play based on your birth certificate is a good thing,” said Sexton.
“I think it’s a relatively new issue. I think 20 years ago or 30 tears ago when I was in high school, it wasn’t an issue. And so it’s becoming a type of an issue. Rep. Griffey has filed the legislation, and I’m in support of it,” he added.
Under the bill, if schools violate the proposed guidelines, they would be “immediately ineligible to continue to receive public funds of any type from this state or a local government.”
If any school or state official knowingly violates the ban, a fine of up to $10,000 will apply, and “the official’s office will be immediately vacated, and the official will be ineligible to hold public office or a position as a school administrator for five years.”
A similar bill in Georgia was also introduced by a Republican lawmaker last year.
“The Student Athlete Protection Act is designed to ensure that biological boys will only compete in sports against other biological boys and vice versa for girls,” State Rep. Philip Singleton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The intent of my bill is to make sure every student has the opportunity to compete fairly.”
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Tennessee Capitol building