BREAKING: Tennessee Senate passes two extensions to last year’s ban on transgender students playing school sports compatible with gender identity

Transgender students, like all students, benefit from participating in school sports, and allowing transgender youth to participate in sports consistent with their gender identity does not disadvantage their peers. In fact, the goals of school athletics programs are largely supported by the inclusion of transgender athletes. Further, attempting to separate transgender youth from their peers is impractical, unfair, and unnecessary — not to mention violating the requirements of federal civil rights law and the United States Constitution. This bill is a continuation of that attack and is equally unnecessary and driven by the dislike and misunderstanding of transgender youth. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to publicly ostracize, demonize and harm transgender children who just want to play.

Cathryn Oakley, Legislative Director and Senior Advocate for the Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement in response to today’s votes:

“Tennessees deserve better than lawmakers who seek to bully transgender youth with politically motivated bills in the name of discrimination itself. These are young people who are just trying to play sports with their friends and be part of a team, but these politicians are using them to sow fear and create division. The banning of transgender students from playing school sports in the last term was in itself unnecessary and discriminatory legislation, which created many problems and solved none. It only creates more problems. The Human Rights Campaign urges Governor Lee to veto SB 1861 and the House of Representatives to cease all motion on SB 2153.”

Already, Republican governors Governor Spencer Cox of Utah and Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana have both vetoed similar bills in their states this legislative session, rejecting discriminatory anti-sports bans. –transgender people approved by their state legislatures.

Across the country, a record number of anti-transgender bills were introduced in 2021, primarily focused on denying transgender youth access to gender-affirming care and participation in school sports programs. Even more anti-transgender laws are set to be introduced in 2022. There are over 320 anti-LGBTQ+ bills pending in state legislatures across the country. Of these, at least 140 directly target transgender people and about half of them (more than 75 bills) would prohibit trans youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The Ministry of Justice sent a letter last week to all state attorneys general reminding them of the constitutional and federal statutory provisions that protect transgender youth from discrimination.

Anti-transgender attacks as a topic of political discussion

Lawmakers in a record 34 states introduced 147 anti-transgender bills in 2021, focusing on discriminatory anti-equality measures to drive a wedge between their constituents and score short-term political points. In 2021, lawmakers in twelve states passed anti-LGBTQ+ bills although they did not provide examples of what exactly they legislate against.

The mere act of introducing anti-transgender bills and peddling anti-transgender rhetoric has already had a detrimental effect, leading to Resources for LGBTQ+ youth are surreptitiously removed from a government website, 11-year-olds literally have trouble sleeping, and a school district banning graphic novels with a transgender character after a parent’s complaint. 2021 and 2020 have been the deadliest and second deadliest years on record for trans and gender nonconforming people, respectively, with the human rights campaign recording at least 50 violent deaths in 2021 alone. A new Trevor Project investigation shows that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by these legislative attacks.

Anti-transgender content on social media is also a radical question on its own. That’s largely because transgender youth are among the most marginalized, voiceless, and helpless communities in America, and because right-wing arguments play on long-standing misogynistic, racist, and sexist tropes about gender roles. of gender.

Anti-equality forces spend a lot

These bills are the result of a concerted effort by right-wing organizations that have been fighting LGBTQ+ advances for years. In recent elections, one of the main anti-equality groups working to roll back decades of LGBTQ+ progress has been the American Principles Project (APP). APP and its chief underwriter Sam Fieler have invested millions of dollars to support anti-LGBTQ+ contestants. In 2020, APP spent more than $2.6 million in ad spend to support anti-equality candidates. In Virginia in 2021, APP spent at least $300,000 on digital advertising in support of Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign.

Restoration PAC, run and funded by leading anti-LGBTQ+ financier Dick Uihlein, spent at least $1.9 million on advertising across Virginia in support of Youngkin and donated $942,000 to the political wing of anti-abortion group Women Speak Out Virginia. Anti-equality group Free to Learn Action launched a million-dollar ad campaign spreading widely debunked anti-transgender misinformation in support of Youngkin’s campaign.

Businesses, advocacy groups and athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

Nearly 200 major American companies have stood up and spoken out in opposition to proposed anti-transgender legislation in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike and Paypal have objected to these bills. Four of America’s largest food companies also condemned “dangerous and discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender and non-binary people,” and the The Walton Family Foundation released a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas. And more than 60 major corporations have joined the HRC in urging Texas Governor Abbott and elected officials across the country to abandon anti-transgender efforts.

Many are rightly protecting the legacy of women‘s sport in this country, and a strong Title IX is at the heart of that legacy. It is important to note that advocates for women and girls in sport – such as the National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports and others – support inclusive policies and oppose efforts aimed at excluding transgender students from sports participation. The same goes for top female athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Cheryl Reeve. Indeed, while women’s sports face real challenges, including a lack of resources dedicated to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them.

The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups, representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations, have released an open letter calling on state legislators countries to oppose dozens of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people and transgender children in particular.

Nearly 550 college athletes have resisted anti-transgender legislation demanding that NCAA championships be removed from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.

Trans equality is popular across all demographics

The reality is that, as sensational and polarizing as this issue may seem, public opinion polls across the country show strong support for inclusive and pro-equality policies:

Recent PRRI data shows that a large majority of Americans (82%) support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing, and majorities of Republicans (67%), independents (85%) and Democrats (92%) support non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

A PBS/NPR/Marist Poll says 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose anti-transgender legislation banning sports that is proliferating in 30 states.

In a poll of 10 swing states conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group in 2020 showed:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters in each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.

  • At least 87% of respondents in each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states exceeding 90% support

  • When respondents were asked how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports over other political issues, the question came last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing at the question.

Another survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group found that when it comes to transgender youth participation in sports, the strong public tilt is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student-athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sport is important in the lives of young people. Young transgender people should have the opportunity to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.

Ja Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are considered full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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