FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2022
Lindsay Kee, 615 -320-7142
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee urged Governor Bill Lee to veto SB 2153/HB 2316, which would exclude transgender women from participating on college sports teams consistent with their gender. This bill does not protect women’s sports, but instead discriminates against and directly harms trans students attending Tennessee’s universities.
“Every young person deserves the opportunity to participate in sports to challenge themselves, improve fitness, and be part of a team. This harmful legislation tells trans students that they can’t participate in sports as themselves – excluding them from receiving the benefits of being on a team that their peers have, and sending the message that they do not belong,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “We urge Governor Lee to veto this discriminatory bill and protect trans students.”
ACLU-TN’s letter describes this bill as “cruel,” “unnecessary,” and “unconstitutional,” and cites studies that show that these types of bills further stigmatize trans students when they are already more at risk of absenteeism, depression, suicide, and violent victimization than their cisgender counterparts.
According to the letter, this bill violates both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, as it wrongfully discriminates against students based on transgender status.
Major sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association permit trans women to compete with cis women. Since the NCAA established this policy in 2011, millions of student athletes have competed without any reported disturbances to collegiate athletics as a result of the inclusion of transgender people.
The letter urges Governor Lee to veto SB 2153/HB 2316, stating that in addition to violating federal law and the Constitution, the legislation “tells trans students they are not allowed to be themselves and that they do not belong in their communities.”
The letter further asserts that “if SB 2153/HB 2316 becomes law, the state will be sued, and Tennessee’s taxpayers will be on the hook for millions of dollars.”
A copy of ACLU-TN’s letter to Governor Lee can be found at: https://www.aclu-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/112-2022_SB_2153_Veto_Letter-FINAL2.pdf