NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Senate passed a bill Monday to prohibit transgender middle and high school athletes from participating in sports based on their gender identity.
Those who are for the controversial bill and those who are criticizing it are speaking out.
Senate Bill 228/House Bill 3, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley, would require students to prove their sex “at the time of birth” in order to play middle and high school sports.
“This bill is just trying to protect our middle school and high school female athletes,” said Hensley at the 2/24/21 Education Committee Meeting.
Tennessee House Representative, Bruce Griffey (R- District 75), said a similar bill was debated last year but it ultimately stalled in the Senate,
“We passed this bill last year and because of Covid, and the Senate wanted to adjourn, we didn’t get the chance to pick up and address this bill in the full House.
People against the bill say the measure is unfair.
“Trans youth identifying as either trans girl or trans boy should have the opportunity to compete and play sports on the team that they identify with,” said The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee’s Policy Director, Brandon Tucker.
It’s unclear how many transgender students are participating in public school sports in Tennessee.
Rep. Griffey said the bill is necessary to protect fairness in competition.
“These athletic events sometimes have financial rewards such as scholarships and college placements and other awards,” Griffey said. “So then is it really fare to all the women athletes to allow a biological male even though they’re taking hormones or whatever? If they’ve gone through puberty they still have that underlying biological advantage.”
Tucker said that fairness is the last thing on legislators mind.
“We’re trying our hardest to defeat this bill with the legislator and if that fails and if this stops one trans youth from being able to be like any other kid, then we will sue and we will win,” Tucker said.
The House version of the bill still needs to be scheduled for a third and final vote by the full chamber.