Tennessee House Passes Anti-trans Sports Bill That Withholds School Funding The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee. (Max Oden/Sipa via AP Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 04 April 2022 01:56 PM
The Tennessee state House passed a bill last week requiring education officials to withhold public funds from districts that allow transgender students to participate in school sports.
House Bill 1895, which passed 66-22 on Thursday, is a follow-up to a law that went into effect last year requiring districts — known as Local Education Associations (LEAs) — to determine a student's birth gender, The Center Square reported.
The state Senate companion bill, SB 1861, passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
The House bill adds teeth to the 2021 law that effectively banned transgender students from participating school sports aligned with their gender identity, said sponsor Rep. John Ragan, R-Tenn., the Tennessean reported.
"There were no consequences if someone chose to ignore what we passed last year," said Ragan, who added the bill would be subject to rules created by the Tennessee Department of Education.
The House legislation does not specify how much money officials could withhold from districts, but it states schools are liable if they fail or refuse "to determine a student's gender, for purposes of participation in school sports, by the student's sex at the time of birth," the Tennessean said.
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Tenn., cited the case of Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete at the University of Pennsylvania who recently won the 500-yard freestyle race at the NCAA Division I women's swimming championships.
"That’s totally unfair to people who were born a woman and are competing," Calfee said, The Center Square reported.
The legislation is one of multiple bills aimed at transgender students and healthcare issues this session after a record-breaking number of bills aimed at LGBTQ issues passed the general assembly last year, the Tennessean reported.
Ragan also sponsored HB 2316, aimed at banning transgender athletes in college sports. That measure cleared Senate and House committees on Wednesday.
The Department of Education plans to issue a new Title IX ruling that will protect transgender students in the coming weeks, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The proposed ruling, crafted within the Biden administration, comes on the heels of Utah's state Legislature overriding GOP Gov. Spencer Cox's veto of a bill prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women's sports.
Florida, South Dakota, and Texas already had similar laws on the books.