Kentucky Advances Anti-Trans Sports Bill
Author: Trudy Ring
Kentucky Thursday became the latest state to advance a transgender-exclusionary sports bill.
The state’s House of Representatives voted 70-23 to approve legislation barring trans girls from competing in girls’ sports in middle schools, high schools, and public colleges and universities, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. The measure, Senate Bill 83, was already passed by the Senate, but because the House amended it, it goes back to the Senate for concurrence before heading to Gov. Andy Beshear.
Beshear, a Democrat, has generally been supportive of LGBTQ+ rights, so there’s a possibility he’d veto the bill. But in Kentucky, it takes only a simple majority of legislators to override a governor’s veto.
Because it includes post-secondary sports, the bill conflicts with National Collegiate Athletic Association policies, which allow trans girls and women to compete on female sports teams, with some restrictions. Some of the trans-exclusionary bills that have become law in other states include colleges and universities; some do not. If the Kentucky bill becomes law, it could threaten Kentucky’s participation in NCAA tournaments.
Supporters of the bill have said it assures fairness in girls’ sports, which is the way those in other states have characterized similar legislation. Opponents counter that there’s nothing unfair about letting trans girls participate in sports with their cisgender peers, and that such bills further marginalize young trans people.
“We are not talking about elite athletics,” Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner said on the House floor. “We are talking about Kentucky kids.”
“No student would pretend to be transgender just to join a particular sports team,” Keith Elston, legal director for the Kentucky Youth Law Project, told the Herald-Leader. “And no transgender student should be singled out for further bullying and discrimination, but that is exactly what this law, if enacted, would do.”
The Human Rights Campaign and the Kentucky Fairness Campaign issued a joint press release condemning the legislation. “The benefits of participation in school sports are wide-ranging, they build character and help kids remain active. Unfortunately, today Kentucky legislators voted to deny transgender kids, who are simply trying to navigate their childhoods, the opportunity and benefits that come from playing school sports,” said HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “While the lawmakers in the House failed Kentucky’s transgender youth today, there is still a chance for state Senators to do the right thing and be the ally that their colleagues in the House were not. We urge the Kentucky Senate to put the best interest of the kids of the Commonwealth ahead of misinformation and discrimination and vote no on SB 83.”
“Transgender kids want the same things all children do — to play with their friends, get a good education and pursue their passions, including sports. Like all kids, they deserve the opportunity to participate on sports teams that help them stay active, bring them joy and fulfillment, and teach them about teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship,” said Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman. “Lawmakers should stop meddling in the lives of innocent kids trying to play with friends on their schools’ sports teams and focus on more pressing issues that pose legitimate threats in Kentucky.”
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Kentucky affiliate also issued a statement against the measure, with spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw saying, “This bill is a solution in search of a nonexistent problem. If this becomes law, it will jeopardize our children’s mental health, physical well-being, and ability to access educational opportunities comparable to their peers.”
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring