From Rhode Island to Utah, these state lawmakers are introducing legislation to keep men out of women's sports
A number of states have proposed legislation to prohibit biological men from competing in women's sports.
For many states, decisions were made following the national saga that stemmed from Lia Thomas' National Champion title.
Following the national saga that surrounded the 2022 NCAA Women's Swimming Championships, more states are jumping on the legislative bandwagon to enact laws that prevent men from competing in women's sports.
Campus Reform has extensively reported on the impact biological men have had on women's sports. This past week, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win a national title.
Now, states are continuing to take action. Eleven states have already placed laws on the books to prohibit men from competing in the women's division, but the national controversy has sparked action from state legislatures as lawmakers push to join the fray.
The Kansas Senate voted to advance Senate Bill 484, dubbed the Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The bill was approved on the Senate floor after a 27-12 vote; it now resides in the Committee on Education for further consideration.
The bill pertains to both K-12 and collegiate athletics and restricts participation to biological sex, unless the league is designated as co-educational.
"Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex," the bill stipulates.
A similar bill nearly clinches approval during the previous legislative term but was effectively vetoed on the Governor's desk by Governor Laura Kelly (D).
While Kelly remains in office, the lawmakers have now garnered enough support to override a veto should the Governor reject the bill. This comes after Senator John Doll switched his previous "no" vote to "yes," giving the bill additional support to achieve a two-thirds majority.
"How many girls have to have their opportunity taken away before it would be seen as a problem?" Erickson asked. “If Lia Thomas were at the University of Kansas instead of the University of Pennsylvania, then would the opposition vote for this because it’s a problem here?”
A similar bill in Kentucky is en route back to the Senate chamber for a final vote after being amended in the House of Representatives on Mar. 17.
Senate Bill 83 reads that "an athletic activity or sport designated as 'girls' shall not be open to members of the male sex." The bill extends to athletes involved from sixth grade to the collegiate level.
The bill was passed on estranged party lines 70-23 count. Sixty-eight Republicans voted in favor of the bill while 22 Democrats opposed it.
Governor Kevin Stitt (R) will determine the fate of Senate Bill 2 after the legislation reaches his desk following a year of deliberation.
The "Save Women's Sports Act" was first introduced in Feb. 2021, and finally secured a 37-7 majority vote on Mar. 24, advancing from the Senate to the Governor's desk.
Similar to bills passed in other states, SB2 seeks to prohibit athletes to compete at the K-12 or collegiate level according to gender identity. Participation in gendered divisions is derived in the bill from biological sex as determined by a birth certificate.
Gender would be proven at the start of each school year through a signed affidavit. Athletes older than 18 would be eligible to sign the affidavit themselves, while minors would gain approval from a legal guardian.
Thomas was, again, pointed to as an example of why such bills need to be passed, according to Republican lawmakers.
Bill author Michael Bergstrom used Thomas' success at the NCAA championships to drive his point home.
"We just saw an NCAA championship go to a biological male," Bergstrom said, according to a report by News Channel 8. "The women that competed in that were angry that this was allowed to happen."
Campus Reform covered the response to Thomas' victory by the mother of one of the competitors. In an interview with the student publication The Liberty Jacket, the mother spelled out the conflict experienced by the women throughout the season, as well as expressed her dismay over how the NCAA handled the situation.
A bipartisan effort is being made in Rhode Island to ensure fairness in women's sports as a bill to limit participation in women's sports to only biological women was introduced in March.
Like similar bills passed in other states across the nation, SB2501 would "categorize women by their biological identity at birth rather than their gender identity for purposes of organized sport."
The bill cites biological differences between the genders that give biological men a competitive advantage, including chromosomal and hormonal differences. Thus, the bill works to standardize participation in athletics at the K-12 and collegiate levels to biological sex.
The Utah legislature overrode Governor Spencer Cox's veto on Mar. 25 to concrete protections for women's sports.
House Bill 11 passed through the House on Mar. 4 in a narrow 46-29 vote, however, it failed to obtain the support of the Governor's office. Cox vetoed the bill on Mar. 22, stating that while he supports protecting integrity in women's sports, the bill contains flaws that must be reconsidered.
"Because the bill was substantially changed in the final hours of the legislative session with no public input and in a way that will likely bankrupt the Utah High School Athletic Association and result in millions of dollars in legal fees for local school districts with no state protection, and for several other reasons below, I have chosen to veto this bill," he explained in a letter to the House and Senate.
Cox addresses that through he sympathizes with concerns sparked by Thomas, the bill would do nothing to prevent the example from impacting Utah as it did not apply to collegiate athletes.
The Legislature held its ground and voted to enact the bill, effectively banning men from participating in women's sports.
Controversially, Republican Governor Eric Holcomb vetoed a bill proposed in Indiana that would prevent athletes from competing according to preferred gender ideology.
Despite clearing the Senate in a 32-7 vote, Holcomb denied the stamp of approval after claiming the bill does not provide sufficient substance to provide "fairness in K-12 sports."
In his veto letter, Holcomb explained his decision to reverse his prior support for the bill.
"If it is the goal of HEA 1041 to provide clarity and one consistent state policy regarding the fairness in K-12 sports in Indiana, for me this current bill falls short," Holcomb wrote.
Holcomb cited two reasons for his denial and explained that lack of clarity for how the law would be enforced consistently and fairly across school districts as well as anticipated legal challenges contributed to his revoked support.
The Governor also referred to a lack of evidence to justify government intervention in high school sports.
"Amidst the flurry of enthusiasm to protect the integrity and fairness of women's sports in our state- a worthy cause for sure- this bill leaves too many unanswered questions such as those highlighted above," the governor concluded.
Campus Reform contacted every legislator mentioned in this article for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.
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