The ACLU and Lambda Legal are suing Tennessee over its law excluding transgender youth from participating in school sports, they announced Thursday.
The lawsuit is brought by, and on the behalf of, a 14-year-old high school student, Luc Esquivel, who cannot try out for his local boys' golf team as a result of a state law banning transgender middle and high school students from participating on interscholastic sports teams that match their gender identity.
"To have the legislature pass a law that singled out me and kids like me to keep us from being part of a team, that crushed me, it hurt very much," Equivel said in a press release. "I just want to play, like any other kid."
The bill, SB 228, is among multiple pieces of legislation passed, and scrutinized, across the United States this year putting limitations on the participation of transgender athletes.
"I signed the bill to preserve women's athletics and ensure fair competition," Gov. Lee tweeted after signing the bill. "This legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX and I commend members of the General Assembly for their bipartisan work."
In July, a federal court issued an injunction against West Virginia's law banning trans students from participating in school sports. In June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning transgender girls and women from competing in women's scholastic sports. Idaho passed the first in the series of bills nationwide that banned trans girls and women from playing women’s sports in K–12 schools and public colleges and universities in 2020.
In mid-October, a number of high-profile athletes, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, American soccer star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA players Layshia Clarendon and Brianna Turner, were among a group of more than 100 athletes who filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, urging the court to affirm a lower-court ruling that would dismiss Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy that enables transgender students to participate in school sports.
"There is no place in any sport for discrimination of any kind," King said at the time. "I'm proud to support all transgender athletes who simply want the access and opportunity to compete in the sport they love. The global athletic community grows stronger when we welcome and champion all athletes – including LGBTQI+ athletes.”
Thursday's news marked the organization's fifth challenge to an anti-trans law that has passed this year.
“We will continue to fight these relentless attacks on trans youth," Leslie Cooper, the deputy director of the ACLU's LGBTQ & HIV Project, said. "There is no reason, apart from the legislature’s desire to express its disapproval of transgender people, to keep Luc from playing on the boys’ golf team.”
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