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ACLU, Democratic LGBTQ Caucus issue statements on transgender student-athlete bill

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Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 23:53:51-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The ACLU and Tennesse Democratic Party LGBTQ Caucus and others have issued statements in response to a bill moving through the legislature that would require student-athletes to participate on a team based on their gender at birth.

On Wednesday, members of the Tennessee Senate Education Committee and the House Education Administration Committee voted to advance SB 228/HB 3.

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Forcing transgender athletes to play sports based on gender at birth

The ACLU called the bill "harmful and unconstitutional," discriminating "against transgender children by barring them from participating in the school sports that they love."

Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice, with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project issued the following statement:

“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.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party LGBTQ Caucus, Tennessee Young Democrats LGBTQ Caucus, Tennessee College Democrats and Tennessee High School Democrats issued a joint statement Wednesday.

They say the bill discriminates against transgender students and is part of "a nationally coordinated attack on our youth and only serves to add to the culture wars and division politics..."

Read the full statement below:

"Today, the Tennessee Legislature’s education committees sent a bill to the floor that would discriminate against Tennessee transgender students wishing to participate in school sports. While the TSSAA stated that no transgender students in the state of Tennessee have ever attempted to compete in a high school sport, the state of Tennessee is breaking federal Title Nine laws that already allow transgender students to play sports - putting billions in education funding at risk.

This bill is a nationally coordinated attack on our youth and only serves to add to the culture wars and division politics that don’t serve Tennesseans. The extremist right-wing politicians backing this bill want to waste taxpayer money that could be going to support teachers and schools to rather litigate an issue that does not exist. The real detriment of this legislation is the damage it will do to the population who are being attacked by it. The transgender community in Tennessee deserves better from the Legislature that is tasked to serve them.

It is also worth noting that this will have unintended consequences. A rule in Texas only allowing transgender students to compete in the league for their assigned sex led to a young trans man being forced to compete in wrestling competitions against females. He won the state title and a scholarship. Also, a young woman in Connecticut who filed a lawsuit to ban two trans athletes from girls’ track and field lost her case, but beat the transgender athletes she was competing against.

State Government has other pressing matters to focus on. Covid relief and getting students safely back to school should be the top priority right now, not issues they conjure up to distract from their failures to lead during a crisis. We stand with the Tennesee Equality Project and demand these politicians stop their #SlateOfHate. For more information on how to take action this week, follow @tnhsdems on Instagram and watch our social media for direct action."