National ban on transgender athletes in women’s sports passed by US House of Representatives panel

WASHINGTON. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Workforce passed a party-line voting bill early Thursday that would bar transgender girls from participating in school sports based on their gender identity, a reflection of a broader move by several states to limit the rights of transgender students. athletes.

Bill HR 734, introduced by Rep. Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, would amend Title IX to require student athletes to compete in sports consistent with “human reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” with the bill’s language specifically targeting transgender people. . girls.

The bill would also make it a Title IX violation for federally funded facilities to allow transgender female athletes to compete in sports intended for women.

After more than 16 hours of surcharge, which lasted from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, the law was passed on 25-17..

Title IX protects people from gender discrimination in federally funded educational programs or activities. It is enforced by the US Department of Education.

The sports legislation is part of a national campaign by Republican lawmakers and state conservative groups to curtail the rights of people in the LGBT community, especially transgender youth.

Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Fox, a Republican from North Carolina, said the bill is a GOP “commitment” to America.

“Men are not women, women are not men,” she said. “They certainly shouldn’t compete with each other in any state-funded arena.”

The bill is likely to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives but is expected to die in the Senate, where the Democrats have a slim majority. There is currently no Senate sponsor for the bill in this Congress, but in the previous Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced the Senate version of the bill.

During the sweep, the Democrats introduced five amendments in which they argued that some of them would strengthen Title IX, such as protecting the privacy of athletes and providing resources for parents and students to report incidents of discrimination.

But three of those five amendments were blocked from voting because Fox and a member of the House of Representatives ruled that the amendments were outside the scope of the original bill.

Small number of transgender students

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, said that instead of addressing real education issues like student mental health, achievement gaps, and declining math and science skills, Republicans “decided to use our first allowance to advance the political course.” agenda by politicizing student education, scapegoating some of our most vulnerable students as a cause of inequality in sports.”

Scott, like almost every Democrat on the committee, pointed out during the markup that transgender students make up a small part of the population, and even a smaller part of the population when it comes to athletic youth.

According to the NCAA, more than 8 million students compete in high school athletics and more than 480,000 students compete as National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes.

There are currently 32 transgender athletes openly competing in college sports, Scott said, adding that there are more lawmakers on the committee – 45 – than college transgender athletes.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that such a handful of athletes, who pose no obvious threat, justify the actions of the national congress,” he said.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that about 1.6 million people aged 13 and over identify as transgender in the United States. Of this population, 300,000 are young people between the ages of 13 and 17, representing 1.4% of the US population for this age group.

“Scapegoat in the Culture War”

Democrats argued that the law would harm transgender children.

“It’s about making a group of transgender children scapegoats in a culture war and criminalizing their existence,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona. “We are mired in this culture war created and started by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and trans children are just collateral damage in this war.”

Conservative lawmakers and advocates at the state and federal levels have taken up issues relating to the LGBTQ community, especially gender studies in schools. They also abandoned efforts to teach racism, accusing schools of teaching critical racial theory, which is a college-level course of study that is not taught at the K-12 level.

This has led to state and local laws being passed to prevent transgender youth from using school facilities, such as bathrooms, that match their gender identity. Thousands of books by LGBTQ authors or stories featuring LGBTQ characters have been banned from schools.

House Republicans have not responded to criticism from Democrats that the bill discriminates against transgender athletes. Instead, they focused on the argument that sports should be gender-segregated and that the bill would protect girls.

One Republican, Bob Good of Virginia, said it was a moral issue.

“God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “He makes us completely unique as individuals, and we are all either invariably male or invariably female.”

Rep. Burgess Owens, a Republican from Utah, introduced the only Republican amendment that replaced the text of the bill. The bill’s original sponsor, Steube, did not speak on the matter.

Owens, a former professional football player, said the sport had a profound effect on him when he was a student and he saw how sport could have a positive impact on women.

“I have seen sports empower the women in my life, including my five daughters, and help shape their character,” says Owens. “I’m sad to think that the same opportunities may not be available in the future.”

He said the bill would provide protection for girls under Title IX.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat, introduced an amendment to change the title of the bill from the Women and Girls in Sports Protection Act of 2023 to the Vulnerable Children Stigma Act.

“We need to be clear about what this bill does and what the implications of this bill will be,” she said, noting that transgender children have been involved in sports for decades.

Jayapal said that in 2004 the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced that transgender athletes could compete in the Olympics, and in 2008 her home state became the first state to allow transgender children to compete in sports according to their gender identity.

Her amendment was voted down.

Representatives Suzanne Bonamichi, D-Oregon, and Frederick S. Wilson, D-Fl, rejected the bill and said it would harm transgender students and weaponize Title IX.

“Unfortunately, these efforts are joining a wave of anti-transgender legislation sweeping across the country, including in my state of Florida,” Wilson said.

states with bans

To date, 18 states with Republican-controlled legislatures have banned transgender athletes from competing in competitions that match their gender identity.

The states that have banned the participation of transgender youth in sports are Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana and Mississippi. .

Some of these bans are not yet in effect and are suspended due to temporary injunctions, such as in Idaho, West Virginia, Indiana, Utah, and Montana, where this injunction only applies to higher education bans, not K-12s. .

Bonamichi introduced an amendment to prohibit higher education institutions from requiring athletes to provide reproductive and sexual health information, including information about an athlete’s menstrual cycle.

“Women and girls should never be asked for unnecessary information about the menstrual cycle and reproductive function as a basis for determining eligibility to play sports,” she said.

Fox said she disagreed with the amendment because “this amendment eliminates the main bill.”

Fox said it was “a radical attempt to erase women”.

“HR 734 aims to protect women from discrimination and unfair play,” Fox said. “This amendment prevents the achievement of both goals.”

Bonamichi’s amendment was voted down.

The committee also noted and passed a second bill, HR 5, “The Bill of Parents’ Rights Act,” introduced by Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La. It was also passed in a 25–17 vote along party lines.

This bill requires public schools to provide parents with review materials such as books in the school library, curriculum, and budgets. If these schools do not comply, these institutions may lose federal funding.

The bill will also restrict classroom work and books on issues related to race and gender.

House majority supporter Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, plans to put a parental bill of rights to a vote as early as March 20, according to Politico.

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