Tennessee Republican Bill Requires Student Athletes to Compete In Sports Based on Birth Gender

December 18, 2019 Updated: December 18, 2019

A new bill introduced by a Tennessee state legislator on Monday will require elementary and secondary school athletes to participate in sports based on their biological sex.

Republican state Rep. Bruce Griffey proposed HB 1572, which would essentially put an end to transgender athletes participating in any school-sanctioned athletic or sporting event.

According to the bill, “A school shall not accept 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.”

Any elementary or secondary school which violates this requirement would be “immediately ineligible to continue to receive public funds of any type from this state or a local government.”

Furthermore, the law would impose a fine of up to $10,000 on any school or state official who knowingly violates the ban, and the official accused of violating it would have to leave their office.

They would also be ineligible to hold public office, school administration positions, or principal positions for five years after.

In an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star, Griffey explained his reasoning for the bill was a rise in transgender athletes competing in sporting competitions which had traditionally been assigned to females.

“We are seeing more and more transgender athletes competing and posting victories in traditionally gendered sports competitions, and doing so to the detriment of girls and women biologically born female,” he said.

Griffey said he believes it is “fundamentally unfair” for biological girls to go up against biological males when they are competing for college scholarships.

“Boys and men, due to testosterone levels, bigger bone structure, greater lung capacity, and larger heart size have physical advantages in sports relative to girls and women,” he added.

Griffey noted that the bill comes in direct response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to alter the 1964 Civil Rights Act to give rights to transgender.

Congressional Democrats introduced the Equality Act, which would modify the current civil rights legislation, earlier this year.

The new act hopes to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs, and credit; and has received support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, according to The Human Rights Campaign.

If the bill is signed into law, it will be the first national nondiscrimination law for LGBTQ Americans.

“With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushing through passage in the U.S. House of Representative HR 5—the Equality Act—that, among other things, creates a civil right for male athletes to self-identify as females in sports competitions,” Griffey said in his email to the Tennessee Star.

“I believe it is important for states to take a stand. This is what I seek to do through the filing of House Bill 1572,” he added.

Griffey’s bill comes just one week after fellow Republican Bill Klippert announced that he was introducing a similar bill. Klippert’s bill would also prevent biological males who claim to be transgender females from competing against natural-born female athletes in school athletic activities.

Klippert said the bill means to ensure women’s rights and maintain fundamental fairness.

“I’m running this in support of female athletes, so they can compete against each other and not have to compete against male athletes who have different hormones flowing through their veins, which gives them much more muscle capacity,” he told KEPR.