A new bill was proposed to the Tennessee state legislature in early December that would require students of public elementary and secondary schools to play sports based on their gender assigned at birth.
Republican State Representative Bruce Griffey proposed House Bill 1572—self-dubbed as the Girls Athletic Protection Act—which would require “elementary and secondary schools that receive public funding to ensure that student athletes participate in school-sanctioned sports based on the student’s biological sex as indicated on certificate issued at time of birth,” under threat of a civil penalty of no more than $10,000, as well as requiring a public official to leave their office and become ineligible to run for public school offices for five years if they were to take “certain actions contrary to the intent of the law.” It would also prohibit the school from receiving public funds or competing in statewide sports competitions.
In a Facebook post regarding the bill, Griffey stated that “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. 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…For this reason, it is fundamentally unfair to allow someone biologically born a male, but who now identifies as a female, to compete in an athletic competition against biologically born females, who are disadvantaged.”
Although the bill has already been heavily condemned by LGBTQ activists, Griffey stands by his motivations.
“There’s no ill will intended toward anyone regarding this legislation. What it’s simply trying to do is, I think science and experience and just society,” said Griffey, in a statement with Nick Beres of News Channel 5. “If we’re going to begin blurring the lines, we’re really defeating the purpose of having fair competition to begin with.”
He also stated that the bill was in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “pushing through” of the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in aspects like public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, and more.
“I believe it is important for states to take a stand,” Griffey said. “This is what I seek to do through the filing of House Bill 1572.”
His bill has been praised by outlets such as Breitbart, a far-right opinion and news website that has been declared a “platform by the alt-right” by the former executive chairman of the site Steve Bannon, and condemned for its intentional publishing of conspiracy theories and white-nationalist media.
In a statement with LGBTQNATION, Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project called the bill “insulting to trans youth,” and part of the “2020 slate of hate bills,” referring to the numerous bills proposed to the Tennessee state legislature that would negatively affect the LGBTQ community.
“It is an attack on trans students; their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further,” he said.
Griffey, a freshman lawmaker from Paris, Tennessee, is known for some of his other controversial bills, such as a bill to require Tennessee to turn away all refugees, a bill to require chemical castration of convicted sex offenders, and his involvement in the bill that redefined “public place”in cases of indecent exposure, which critics argued unfairly targeted transgender people.
None of the 13 bills that Griffey introduced in the 2019 session have passed.
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