H.B. 2316 / S.B. 2153, Which Was Signed By Governor Lee, Extends Last Year’s Prohibition on Transgender Students Playing School Sports Consistent With Their Gender Identity, Expands That Ban To College Athletics
TENNESSEE – Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for signing H.B. 2316 /S.B. 2153, which extends last year’s prohibition on transgender students playing school sports consistent with their gender identity to also apply that ban to colleges. It excludes all transgender girls from participating in school athletics, increasing their isolation and denying them the social, physical and emotional benefits of sports. This bill doubles down on the discriminatory and harmful law that the state already has in place. It also is unfortunately one more example of how state lawmakers have abused their authority to translate their disapproval of transgender people into discriminatory legislation time and time again. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns Gov. Bill Lee and the anti-equality Tennessee legislature for their repeated efforts to ostracize, harm, and discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.
Transgender student athletes, like all student athletes, benefit from participating in school athletics, and transgender student athletes have long been able to participate in school sports under guidelines, from the NCAA and otherwise, that ensure a fair playing field for all. Further, a wholesale ban on transgender student athletes participating in sports is not a serious attempt to address a fairness concern, but rather an unqualified, discriminatory exclusion. Tennessee has passed law after law that singles out and excludes transgender people, and unfortunately they continue to refuse to acknowledge that transgender people - in this case, transgender student athletes - are human beings deserving of dignity and respect. This legislation is impractical, unfair, and unnecessary, not to mention contrary to the requirements of federal civil rights law and the United States Constitution. This bill is a continuation of Tennessee’s attack on the LGBTQ+ community, not a reflection on any actual problem that exists in Tennessee.
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley released the following statement in reaction to today’s votes:
“2022 is on track to surpass a record number of anti-transgender bills filed in state legislatures this year, in large part because of the efforts by Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee lawmakers who, law after law, year after year, continue their legislative assault on the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender people. Other governors, including Republicans, have decided to lead with compassion, but not Governor Lee. The Human Rights Campaign condemns his actions, and those of the anti-equality legislators in the state house in the strongest terms.”
Chris Sanders, Executive Director for the Tennessee Equality Project and Tennessee Equality Project Foundation issued the following statement:
"This law sends a horrible message that trans and nonbinary youth can be excluded from the many benefits of participating in sports . More broadly, it also stains those who are complicit and creates habits of lawmaking that endanger everyone in Tennessee. Legislation crafted from animus and ignorance protects no one."
Already, Republican governors Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah and Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana both vetoed similar bills in their states this legislative session, rejecting discriminatory anti-transgender sports bans approved by their state legislatures.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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