NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others are suing Tennessee over its law banning trans students in school sports.
ACLU, ACLU of Tennessee and Lambda Legal brought the lawsuit on behalf of 14-year-old Luc Esquivel, a freshman at Farragut High School in Knoxville.
Esquivel, an avid golfer, can't try out for his schools' boys' golf team due to a recent Tennessee law banning transgender athletes from playing in youth sports in middle school and high school.
“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,” Esquivel said. “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.”
Gov. Bill Lee, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and others are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Lee told reporters earlier this year he believed allowing transgender girls to play on female sports teams would "destroy women's sports." The governor added he believed it would also "ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships."
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, previously said Lee has made Tennessee “a pioneer in anti-transgender discrimination” due to his signing the slate of bills targeting transgender people.
Similar anti-trans bills in other states, like Idaho and West Virginia, were blocked by federal courts.
“It made me, and still makes me, so angry,” Luc’s mother, Shelley Esquivel added. “A mother wants to see their kid happy, thriving, enjoying being a kid. High school sports are an important part of that. I know how much Luc was looking forward to playing on the boys’ golf team. It’s heartbreaking to see him miss out on this high school experience, and it is painful for a parent to see their child subjected to discrimination because of who they are. I’m proud Luc is taking this step, and his father and I are with him all the way.”
This is the ACLU’s fifth challenge to an anti-trans law that has passed this year.
“We will continue to fight these relentless attacks on trans youth. 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," Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said.