(Case No. 3:21-cv-00835, United States District Court Middle District of Tennessee)
ACLU-TN: Thomas H. Castelli, Stella Yarbrough
ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project: Leslie Cooper, Meredith Taylor Brown
Lambda Legal: Tara L. Borelli, Carl S. Charles, Sasha Buchert,
WilmerHale: Alan Schoenfeld, Matthew D. Benedetto, Thomas F. Costello-Vega, Emily L. Stark, Samuel M. Strongin
Plaintiffs: Luc Esquivel by his mother, Shelley Esquivel and his father, Mario Esquivel
Defendants: Bill Lee, Penny Schwinn, Sara Heyburn Morrison, Nick Darnell, Mike Edwards, Robert Eby, Gordon Ferguson, Elissa Kim, Lillian Hartgrove, Nate Morrow, Larry Jensen, Darrell Cobbins, Emily House, Knox County Board of Education A/K/A Knox County Schools A/K/A Knox County School District, Robert M. “Bob” Thomas
Luc Esquivel is a 14-year-old freshman at Farragut High School in Knoxville, TN who has been looking forward to trying out for the boys’ golf team. That aspiration was derailed when the Tennessee legislature passed and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law SB 228, which bans transgender middle and high school students from participating on interscholastic sports teams that match their gender.
This discriminatory law prevents middle and high school students across Tennessee from participating in school sports, an activity which has been proven to provide short term and long-term benefits. This is particularly important for trans students, who often face stigmatization and alienation.
SB 228 is one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. In fact, health care organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have opposed such legislation, and the NCAA has reaffirmed its support for transgender participation in NCAA athletics. Prior to the passage of SB 228, the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association (TMSAA) and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) had regulations governing the participation of transgender students in school sports and had reported no issues with their inclusive policies.
On November 4, 2021, the ACLU of Tennessee, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of WilmerHale filed a lawsuit challenging a Tennessee law excluding transgender youth from participating in school sports.
The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court.
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (November 4, 2021)