2021 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency
By: Senator(s) Hill, Barrett, Branning, Carter, Caughman, Chism, DeLano, England, Fillingane, McCaughn, McDaniel, McLendon, McMahan, Parks, Seymour, Sojourner, Sparks, Suber, Tate, Thompson, Whaley, Wiggins
AN ACT TO CREATE THE "MISSISSIPPI FAIRNESS ACT"; TO REQUIRE ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL, PUBLIC INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING OR INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING THAT IS A MEMBER OF THE NCAA, NAIA, MHSAA OR NJCCA TO DESIGNATE ITS ATHLETIC TEAMS OR SPORTS ACCORDING TO BIOLOGICAL SEX; TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR ANY SCHOOL OR INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION THAT MAINTAINS SEPARATE ATHLETIC TEAMS OR SPORT FOR STUDENTS OF THE FEMALE SEX; TO CREATE PRIVATE CAUSES OF ACTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Fairness Act."
SECTION 2. Designation of athletic teams. (1) Interscholastic or intramural athletic teams or sports that are sponsored by a public primary or secondary school or any school that is a member of the Mississippi High School Activities Association or public institution of higher education or any higher education institution that is a member of the NCAA, NAIA or NJCCA shall be expressly designated as one of the following based on biological sex:
(a) "Males," "men" or "boys";
(b) "Females," "women" or "girls"; or
(c) "Coed" or "mixed."
(2) Athletic teams or sports designated for "females," "women" or "girls" shall not be open to students of the male sex.
(3) If disputed, a student may establish his or her sex by presenting a signed physician's statement which shall indicate the student's sex based solely upon:
(a) The student's internal and external reproductive anatomy;
(b) The student's normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone; and
(c) An analysis of the student's genetic makeup.
SECTION 3. Protection for educational institutions. A government entity, any licensing or accrediting organization, or any athletic association or organization shall not entertain a complaint, open an investigation, or take any other adverse action against a primary or secondary school or institution of higher education for maintaining separate interscholastic or intramural athletic teams or sports for students of the female sex.
SECTION 4. Cause of action. (1) Any student who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers any direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this act shall have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages and any other relief available under law against the primary or secondary school or institution of higher education.
(2) Any student who is subject to retaliation or other adverse action by a primary or secondary school, institution of higher education, or athletic association or organization as a result of reporting a violation of this act to an employee or representative of the school, institution or athletic association or organization, or to any state or federal agency with oversight of primary or secondary schools or institutions of higher education in the state shall have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages and any other relief available under law against the school, institution or athletic association or organization.
(3) Any primary or secondary school or institution of higher education that suffers any direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this act shall have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages and any other relief available under law against the government entity, licensing or accrediting organization, or athletic association or organization.
(4) All civil actions must be initiated within two (2) years after the harm occurred. Persons or organizations who prevail on a claim brought pursuant to this section shall be entitled to monetary damages, including for any psychological, emotional and physical harm suffered, reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, and any other appropriate relief. The causes of action pursuant to this section shall be in addition to any other civil or criminal proceeding authorized by the laws of this state or by federal law.
SECTION 5. Severability. Any provision of this act held to be invalid or unenforceable by its terms, or as applied to any person or circumstance, shall be construed so as to give it the maximum effect permitted by law, unless such holding shall be one of utter invalidity or unenforceability, in which event such provision shall be deemed severable herefrom and shall not affect the remainder hereof or the application of such provision to other persons not similarly situated or to other, dissimilar circumstances.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2021.