A pair of bills that would prohibit biological males from competing in women’s local education association (LEA) and collegiate sports continues to advance through the Tennessee General Assembly legislative process.
SB1861, sponsored by State Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), was approved by both the chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. SB2153, also sponsored by Hensley, was passed in the state Senate, 27-4, and is scheduled to be considered by the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee on next Tuesday.
State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) is the sponsor of both bills in the state House.
SB1861, “requires the commissioner of education to withhold a portion of the state education finance funds that an LEA 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.”
If enacted into law, the Tennessee State Board of Education would be required to create rules in order to ensure compliance, as well as to establish procedures for how a portion of the funds is to be withheld.
The legislation does not affect local education associations that cannot comply due to a court order.
The state Senate approved the bill Monday by a vote of 26 to 5. Also, the House passed the bill 66-22 on March 31. Speaker Cameron Sexton signed the legislation. It awaits the Senate speaker’s signature as of press time. After that occurs, it will be sent over to Governor Bill Lee’s office for his action.
The caption for SB2153 reads, “Education – As introduced, prohibits males from participating in public higher education sports that are designated for females; creates a cause of action for violations that deprive a student of an athletic opportunity or that cause direct or indirect harm to a student at the middle school, high school, or postsecondary level. – Amends TCA Title 49.”
The bill does not restrict anyone from participating in sports that are designed for males, boys, or are designated co-ed or mixed.
The legislation, if enacted, would require a college or other institute of higher learning to use the sex listed on the birth certificate. “For purposes of this section, an institution of higher education shall rely upon the sex listed on the student’s original birth certificate, if the birth certificate was issued at or near the time of birth,” the bill says. “If a birth certificate provided by a student is not the student’s original birth certificate issued at or near the time of birth or does not indicate the student’s sex, then the student must provide other evidence indicating the student’s sex.”
The House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee recommended the bill for passage via voice vote on April 13. State Representative Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) requested to be listed as voting No. The House Civil Justice Committee and the House Higher Education Administration Committee previously approved the bill on March 30 and March 16, respectively.
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