Tennessee to Defund Schools Allowing Transgender Sports

A new Tennessee law will defund public schools in the state if they allow transgender students to compete on school sports teams organized for the opposite sex.

Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law last Friday. It requires the Tennessee Commissioner of Education to withhold a portion of state educating funding from school districts that do not take steps to determine a student’s biological sex when they participate in athletics. The law does not set out a specific amount of state funding that is to be withheld from districts that do not comply.

Lee signed the bill after it passed in the Tennessee state Senate earlier this month by a 26-5 vote. It becomes effective on July 1.

The new law follows one enacted by the Volunteer State last year that requires public school students in grades 5 through 12 to compete in school athletic events based on their biological sex rather than a different “gender identity.”

State Senator Joey Hensley sponsored the new bill and said that it was designed to “put teeth” into the law passed last year.

The Tennessee legislature passed another measure this week that bans biological males from competing in women’s collegiate athletics. The law allows an athelete to bring a private lawsuit to seek legal remedies if a transgender person wins in competition intended for the opposite sex.

It also advanced a bill that protects public school teachers in the state from being forced to use a student’s preferred pronouns in order to conform with a non-biological gender identity. The bill is designed to protect school staff from “civil liability and adverse employment action” over claims they failed to use such pronouns.

Lee signed legislation last year that bans providing pre-pubescent children transgender hormone drugs for gender dysphoria and also limits the use of bathrooms to members of the same biological sex.

At least 14 other U.S. states have passed laws recently that restrict biological males from participating in female sports.