Apr 5, 2022 - Politics

Ga. Republicans approve pathway to ban transgender girls from sports

Illustration of the Georgia State Capitol with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The General Assembly's final day of mostly bipartisan lawmaking was eclipsed by a late night Republican amendment to create a pathway for high schools to ban transgender girls from playing women's sports.

Why it matters: The 11th hour push comes as part of a national Republican movement targeting transgender girls in high school sports.

  • It also reflects the primary elections ahead. The policy was a priority of Gov. Brian Kemp's and other conservative lawmakers.

Details: The amendment, presented Monday without an explanation just before midnight, gives a high school athletic association the ability to ban transgender girls from playing sports if it “determines that it is necessary and appropriate."

What they’re saying: Democratic state Rep. Matthew Wilson said on the House floor the bill "sets us up to be on the wrong side of history and morality.”

  • Democratic state Sen. Sally Harrell, the mother of a transgender child said the change "may have significant impacts on the mental health of a small group of children" that runs counter to the spirit of the bipartisan mental health reform package.
  • Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, said the bill “poses great harm to transgender students” and amounts to "a political attempt to score points" at the expense of young people who just want to be left alone.

Republican Speaker of the House David Ralston called the bill a “compromise” versus a previously proposed outright ban and compared it to the NCAA model of sport-by-sport governance.

Yes, but: Graham said while it is "marginally better," he still denounces the measure "wholeheartedly."

In other news: Bipartisan measures passed earlier in the day include:

  • Expanding Medicaid coverage for all new mothers to one year postpartum.
  • Cutting the state income tax rate to a flat 5.49%.
  • Creating the first state-funded grant program to help students struggling financially complete their degrees.
  • Protecting local government employees from retaliation after reporting sexual harassment or participating in a sexual harassment investigation.
  • Legalizing “personal delivery devices," or those little robots of the future on wheels you may have seen delivering packages.
  • Regulating and testing the raw milk industry.

What's next: If Kemp does not veto new bills within 40 days, they automatically become law.

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