Tennessee bill would force schools to discriminate against trans athletes

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Republican state Rep. Bruce Griffey wants to bar student athletes from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

A Republican lawmaker in Tennessee wants to bar transgender students from participating in sports teams aligned with their gender identity, proposing to completely defund any school that does not comply with his wishes.

State Rep. Bruce Griffey (R) recently filed a bill that, if passed, would require 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."

THe bill's text explicitly prevents schools from accepting "any birth certificate for purposes of participation in an athletic or sporting event that has been revised or amended with respect to the sex of an athlete."

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Any school that violates Griffey's anti-transgender policy would become "immediately ineligible to continue receiving public funds of any type from this state or a local government."

The bill also allows civil actions against those who intentionally violate the rule, punishing them with a fine of up to $10,000 and a ban from public office and school administrative positions for five years.

Griffey told CNN the proposed legislation was a "proactive measure" to "maintain fairness," since "males have a genetic advantage" and "larger hearts." He acknowledged that he had no idea how to deal with transgender male students who wish to participate in sports.

Though first elected less than two years ago, Griffey has already amassed a starkly anti-LGBTQ record. His campaign website issue page claims that "Marriage is between a Man and a Woman and a part of existence recognized by the State."

"Homosexual behavior (be it man with man or woman with woman) has apparently existed as part of human behavior as our species developed," he explained, but, "The State has a compelling interest in further and aiding Marriage for the betterment of the State and our Nation." He added that he and other Americans "do not want to know" about gay sex.

Despite this apparent acknowledgment that sexuality is innate, Griffey voted for last year's "License to Discriminate" bill, protecting business owners who discriminate against LGBTQ people from punishment, and for a bill to allow adoption agencies discriminate against LGBTQ Tennesseans if their "religious or moral convictions" so dictate.

While Griffey's proposed punishments are more draconian, anti-LGBTQ state lawmakers have proposed similar legislation in other states to mandate anti-trans discrimination in school sports. A bill filed in Georgia last month by state Rep. Philip Singleton (R) would prohibit use of public sports facilities if a transgender student athlete competed against those of a different sex assigned at birth in individual sports (but not team sports).

A similar bill in Washington by state Rep. Brad Klippert (R) would prohibit transgender female athletes from competing "with and against female students in athletic activities" but would not impact transgender males.

Texas law currently requires transgender athletes to compete based on their sex-assigned at birth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.