Louisiana House finalizes law preventing transgender athletes from competing on girls’ sports teams in schools
Baton Rouge, La. – The Louisiana House on Thursday finalized a law prohibiting transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports teams in schools, a measure sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is expected to veto the bill.
The Senate’s second-ranking Republican Franklinton Sen. Beth Mizell’s proposal on Thursday passed both the House and Senate with a veto-proof margin, 29-6 votes in the Senate and 78-17 bipartisan votes in the House. But it is unclear whether those coalitions will stick together to overturn the veto of Edwards, a Democrat who calls the bill discriminatory.
Supporters of the bill – which is similar to sanctions passed by Republican-led legislatures in several states – said they are seeking to protect female athletes from unfair competition and maintain equality for the women’s sport. This measure will be applicable to K-12 schools and colleges.
“Allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports shatters girls’ equal opportunities,” said Jefferson Parish Republican Rep. Laurie Schlegel, who handled the bill in the House. “Let’s protect our girls.”
MPs supporting the law played applause in the chamber of the House after Thursday’s vote.
Opponents said the ban would discriminate against those who are already marginalized. They note that proponents of the measure cannot point to Louisiana’s example of transgender women breaking records or competing in women’s sports.
“It’s a solution in search of a problem,” said Rep. Royce Duplessis, a New Orleans Democrat.
Schlegel cited Connecticut, where he said two transgender women who attended the women’s track event broke 15 records.
“He set the record that women would never touch,” she said. She said it was only “a matter of time” before something like this happened in Louisiana.
Rep. Mandy Landry, a New Orleans Democrat, said the proposal would give adults the ability to question a student’s gender and suggested that it may lead to inappropriate contact with students.
“Don’t you think this opens up the child athlete who is prevalent in this country to be abused by coaches?” Landry asked.
Schlegel said a student could present a birth certificate to prove that they were assigned gender at birth.
Duplessis questioned the potential economic benefits from businesses and events that would refuse to be detected in locations that enforced such laws.
Edwards has described the measure targeting transgender youth and others as unnecessary.
The Governor said, “I am really concerned about the emotionally vulnerable people and the idea that the burden of the state is unnecessary and discriminatory to me and very harmful to those individuals when there is no compelling reason to do so.” in April.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association has already banned transgender athletes participating in high school sports teams. The organization requires that student athletes “compete in the gender of their birth certificate until their gender is reassessed.”
The bill is filed as Senate Bill 156.
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