Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee: Transgender girls should be banned from playing, will 'destroy women’s sports'

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee threw his support behind a proposal to outlaw transgender athletes in middle and high schools on Wednesday, declaring that transgender girls will “destroy women’s sports.”

Lee made the declaration at a news conference from the State Capitol in Nashville.

“I do believe that transgenders participating in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports,” Lee said. “It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships. It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there in some time. I think it’s bad for women and for women’s sports.”

Tennessee GOP pushing for transgender ban in sports

Lee, a Republican, made the remarks while criticizing President Joe Biden for signing an executive order protecting transgender athletes in school sports. His statement mirrors a proposal by state Republican lawmakers that would prohibit transgender students from competing in school sports.

Under the bill, student-athletes' sex would be required to match their birth certificates in order to compete.

Advocates for the ban argue that athletes who are born as males would beneift from unfair advantages while competing in girls and women's sports. Opponents of the legistlation argue that the proposal and the governor's stance are discriminatory and would violate federal Title IX mandates prohibiting sex discrimination in educational settings.

Dem. senator: 'Hate legislation ... unnecessary'

“What a hurtful thing for a leader to say," Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell tweeted in response to Lee's comments. "There have been zero incidents of this being an issue.

"This is just hate legislation, and to double down with an insult to our LGBTQ community is unnecessary."

Aly Chapman, the mother of a transgender child, argued against the proposal in front of a subcommitte on Tuesday.

"Not only does this discriminatory bill undermine their ability to safely belong to their community, it essentially excludes them from schools and sports participation," Chapman said, per News Channel 9.

The bill advanced through early stages in Tennessee's Statehouse on Tuesday. It would require approval in both houses and Lee's signature to become law. A similar bill last year passed the House but failed in the Senate, according to the Associated Press.

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