A bill that would strip some funding from schools that break Tennessee’s new law on transgender athletes Thursday passed the Tennessee State House of Representatives.
“I’m very pleased that the House passed this legislation and I’m confident the Senate chamber will pass it as well. It’s illogical to think sporting competitions involving speed, strength and endurance with males competing against females is a fair contest,” State Rep. John Ragan (R-District 33), the primary sponsor of the bill, told The Tennessee Star Friday.
The original 2021 law says that middle and high school students must participate in sports based on their sex assigned at birth.
But that bill did not have an enforcement mechanism.
Ragan’s bill would allow the state to enforce the law by withholding funding from noncompliant schools.
HB 1895 “requires the commissioner of education to withhold a portion of the state education finance funds that a [Local Education Association] is otherwise eligible to receive if the LEA fails or refuses to determine a student’s gender, for purposes of participation in school sports, by the student’s sex at the time of birth.”
Ragan said the bill protects female athletes.
“Men and women are anatomically different. Title IX was all about creating fair competition and protecting opportunities for female athletes,” Ragan said. “Tennesseans overwhelmingly agree that it’s morally wrong to take that away from young women. This provides additional protections for students as well as consequences if a public school doesn’t follow the rules.”
The Star reached out to Human Rights Campaign, a well-known transgender rights group, but it did not return a comment request.
Transgender sports have been a hot topic in the United States for some time, but the debate has ratcheted up since biological male Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) won the women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 500 meter freestyle championship two weeks ago.
Conservatives argue Thomas has an unfair advantage, having been born a male.
The Pennsylvania DailyStar reported that feminist and women’s rights groups have been largely silent on the issue.
_ _ _
Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].