NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS Local) — Critics of a bill that would require student athletes in Tennessee to play on the sports team of their gender birth say it is an attack on transgender students.

Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey introduced House Bill 1572, known as the Girls Athletic Protection Act. He says it’s designed to ensure fairness in sports competitions throughout the state.

“We all know that traditionally males generally have bigger hearts, bigger upper body strength, and that can give them a genetic advantage when competing
against women in a number of sports,” he told CBS affiliate WTVF.

Advocates for LGBTQ rights say the bill is “about ignorance, hate and discrimination.”

“It is insulting to trans youth, it is an attack on them,” said Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project. “Their state government should be serving them and not seeking ways to marginalize them further.”

But Griffey says there’s no intention to punish or discriminate when it comes down to the bones of the bill, he said it’s about fair competitions.

“We’ve split up sports into male and female competitions to begin with for a sense of fairness; and if we’re going to begin blurring the lines we’re really defeating the purpose of having fair competitions to begin with,” said Griffey.

Under the bill, elementary or secondary school schools that are caught willfully violating the guidelines could lose state and local funding.

In addition, any school or state official who knowingly violates the ban would subject to a fine of up $10,000 and would have to leave their office. They would also be ineligible to hold public office, school administration positions, or principal positions for five years.