GOP-Led House to Vote on Transgender Student Athlete Ban

April 20, 2023

The Republican-led House is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing on school sports teams.

However, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 has no chance of passing in the Democratic-led Senate. The Biden Administration also opposes the measure, calling it discriminatory.

The measure would change the civil rights law known as Title IX, which currently ensures that all students have equal opportunity to take part in team sports and cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex. The language in the House measure would change Title IX’s language to say that a student’s sex is “based on an individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), who introduced the bill, said on Wednesday, “Democrats have regressed so far backwards they are willing to erase the rights that women have fought decades to obtain, all to elevate biological males to the top of women’s podiums. The integrity of women’s sports must be protected.”

However, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who is raising a transgender daughter, asserted, “This bill fuels a virulent hate campaign against kids who just want to play with their friends.” 

The White House on Monday said in a statement that the bill would effectively deny access to sports for transgender students, even at the elementary school level.

The bill “targets people for who they are and therefore is discriminatory” and President Biden would veto it if it reached his desk, the statement said.

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration proposed a rule that would allow schools to bar some transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identities—but schools could not enact across-the-board bans because of Title IX restrictions.

The White House proposal would allow schools from kindergarten through college the discretion to limit participation by transgender students if it can be determined that the person’s participation would undermine competitive fairness or potentially lead to sports-related injuries. 

On the state level, least 16 states currently have transgender bans covering at least high school interscholastic sports. Some of those bans extend to intramural, club or college sports. 

On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to let West Virginia enforce a state law banning transgender athletes from female sports teams at public schools.

Enforcing such bans has been paused by the courts in at least two other states as well as West Virginia. A fourth state ban doesn’t officially take effect until July. 

According to the Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank, some 300,000 of the tens of millions of students between ages 13 and 17 identify as transgender. A 2107 survey by Human Rights Campaign suggested that fewer than 15% of transgender youth play sports.

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