ACLU, Lambda Legal File Lawsuit against Tennessee Law Excluding Trans Students from Participating in School Sports

Luc Esquivel of Knoxville, Tenn., filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, challenging a Tennessee law that bans transgender youth from participating in school sports. (Shawn Poynter/ACLU via Courthouse News)

By Neha Malhi

KNOXVILLE, TN – Tennessee law that excludes transgender youth from participating in school sports has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee and Lambda Legal in a lawsuit filed last week.

This lawsuit is filed on behalf of Luc Esquivel, 14, a freshman at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tenn., after he was banned from participating in the boys’ golf team.

Esquivel said, “I was really looking forward to trying out for the boys’ golf team” and “[t]hen, 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.”

SB 228 is only one of the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills that have been passed by the legislatures in 2021 across the country. This bill has been criticized by health care organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and is not endorsed by any of the main stream sporting organizations.

Even before SB 228 became state law, the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association (TMSAA) and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) has been following regulations that restrict transgender students from participating in the school sports.

Similar laws were passed in Idaho last year and West Virginia’s law has been blocked by federal courts.

According to Sasha Buchert, senior attorney with Lambda Legal, “For trans kids, who often experience alienation and stigmatization, participating on teams with their peers is especially important. Luc just wants to play golf with other boys, to be part of the team, and to improve his game. Like all kids, he just wants to play.”

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director, said, “We stand with the trans students across the state as we challenge this law, and we urge other trans student athletes and their families facing such discrimination to contact us.”

About The Author

Neha Malhi is graduating from UCLA this summer with BA in Economics. she is from LA, California.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan Miller

    “I just want to play, like any other kid.” – The kid


    “Like all kids, he just wants to play.” – The attorney

    Like the kid said, Mx. Attorney.

    Tennessee law that excludes transgender youth from participating in school sports . . .

    Does the law exclude him from participating in school sports (as stated), or participating on the sports team that corresponds to their chosen sex?

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