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Tenn. lawmakers push penalties in transgender athlete ban

March 29, 2022 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nearly a year after Tennessee Republicans banned transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports, GOP lawmakers are attempting to pass harsh penalties against public schools that violate the newly enacted measure.

According to the proposed legislation, Tennessee’s Department of Education would withhold a portion of a state funds from local school districts that fail to determine a student’s gender for participation in middle or high school sports. The measure does not specify exactly how much money should be withheld by the state.

The bill has easily advanced out of legislative hearings in both the House and Senate this year, but it must still clear both full chambers before it can head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.

Last year, the GOP-controlled Statehouse mandated that student athletes must prove that their sex matches that listed on the student’s “original” birth certificate. If a birth certificate was unavailable, then the parents must provide another form of evidence “indicating the student’s sex at the time of birth.”

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None of the supporters of the Tennessee measure could cite a single instance of transgender girls or boys in middle or high school sports. A 2021 review by The Associated Press found only a few instances in which it has been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports.

Civil rights advocates have since sued the state, arguing the law is illegal. However, the law is currently in effect as the lawsuit makes it way through court. A trial has been tentatively set for March 2023.