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Tennessee lawmaker introduces bill requiring student-athletes to play on teams matching birth gender

NASHVILLE — A Tennessee state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require students to play on the sports team that matches their gender at birth — a proposed measure some are calling an attack on transgender students.

“This is about ignorance, hate, and discrimination,” said Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project.

The bill introduced by Rep. Bruce Griffey would require Tennessee student-athletes to participate in sports based on their sex at birth.

“It is insulting to trans youth,” said Sanders. “It is an attack on them. Their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further.”

Sanders said bills like this, which he called discriminatory, are becoming a pattern from lawmakers.

“This bill is a part of the 2020 slate of hate — what we call the bills that attack the LGBTQ community,” said Sanders.

Rep. Griffey said the bill isn’t designed to punish or discriminate.

“This is an attempt to try to make it fair, try to base it on your birth certificate at birth, and so everyone has a fair shot at scholarships, and a fair shot at winning,” said Griffey.

Griffey said there’s a reason why we have boys and girls sports.

“If we’re going to begin blurring the lines, we’re really defeating the purpose of having fair competitions to begin with,” said Griffey.

In the end, Griffey said it comes down to science and experience.

“We all know that traditionally, males generally have bigger hearts, bigger upper body strength, and that can give them a genetic advantage when competing against women in a number of sports,” said Griffey.

If schools are caught wilfully violating the guidelines under the bill, they could lose state funding, be disqualified, and be forced to pay a $10,000 fine.

“The issue is animist and the lack of understanding of the trans community,” said Sanders.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Republican Governor Bill Lee would support the proposed legislation.

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