LGBTQ+ and civil rights group sues Tennessee over transgender sports ban

LGBTQ+ civil rights groups in Tennessee filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s controversial transgender sports ban. Filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee on behalf of transgender 14-year-old Luc Esquivel, the suit argues that banning transgender students from their desired sports teams is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

The suit also argues that preventing transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity encourages bullying in schools, denies transgender children the benefits of participating in sports and ultimately acts as “a solution in search of a problem” that does not exist.  The suit read: “For some transgender students, being required to play on a team that does not match their gender identity would have the additional consequence of revealing private medical information, as not all students who are transgender are known to be transgender by their peers.”  Esquivel said in a press release Thursday: “I was really looking forward to trying out for the boys’ golf team and, if I made it, training and competing with and learning from other boys and improving my game. Then, 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. I just want to play, like any other kid.”

The ban, which was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee, was touted as a way to preserve fairness in women’s sports. But the bill requires schools to make both female and male transgender athletes play on teams that match their gender assigned at birth, something opponents say is discriminatory and unfairly targets transgender or gender non-conforming athletes.