Governor Signs Bill Enforcing Strict Penalties Against Schools That Ignore Transgender Sport Bans

To further enforce the Tennessee transgender sports ban, the states governor signed strict penalties into law for schools that don't adhere.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Tennessee transgender sports

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed a law that helps to further protect girls’ sports for natural-born females. Last year the state became the 3rd in the country to pass legislation that requires student-athletes to enter sports teams under their biological sex. Despite this, the law did not specify the sorts of penalties that schools would face should they allow a biological male to play on a girl’s sport team. Because of this, some schools have refused to adhere to the Tennessee transgender sports ban, forcing lawmakers to pass further legislation.

The Metro Nashville School Board refused to update its sports participation policy for students at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. This was shortly after the Tennessee transgender sports ban was still new and the concept had yet to spread to numerous states across the nation. The school board based their decision on fear of encouraging discrimination, yet did not cite whether any transgender students had actually been discriminated against while playing on a sports team of their biological sex.

Tennessee transgender sports

A 2021 federal lawsuit included a group of female runners focused on questioning the legality of allowing biological males to compete in the female categories. It was a landmark case that would have set a precedent for the entire country, but US District Court Judge Robert Chatigny dismissed it on the technicality that the transgender runners in question had graduated by the time the suit went to court. This left it up to states like Tennessee to enact transgender sports policies based on the needs of their constituents. 

Since becoming the 3rd state in the nation to enact such a law, 13 more have passed similar legislation. Missouri is the latest to require that students play on sports teams based on their biology, as opposed to their gender identity. How these states penalize schools and sports clubs that break these new laws varies, but Tennessee is leading the way in protecting biological females from being unfairly outperformed by male sports players — as was seen when Lia Thomas switched from competing as a male swimmer to a female and started breaking women’s records. Being that the passage of the Tennessee transgender sports ban was not enough to deter schools from pitting female athletes against biological males in physical competitions, last Friday Governor Bill Lee took additional action. 

Tennessee transgender sports

He signed a bill that withholds government funding from school districts that break the law and allows biological males to compete with females. It is not yet determined how much funding will be withheld with each incident, or how frequently this issue occurs, but it is yet another measure set in place to protect natural-born females from facing opponents with unfair biological advantages. The Tennessee transgender sports ban is currently in place and the new penalties will be enforced starting July 1st of this year. The state is leading the way in favor of biological identity as opposed to other newer concepts. It has passed more legislation on the subject than any other area of the country, to date.