Mar 21, 2024 - News

Bill would ban trans girls from sports that match gender identity

Illustration of a transgender symbol with a soccer ball, tennis ball, basketball, and baseball cycling through the circle in the middle.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Republican lawmakers are resurrecting debate over whether transgender students can participate in girls' sports or use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Why it matters: The legislation is the latest in a slew of bills that have been filed over the last few years in Georgia and across the country targeting LGBTQ minors.

Zoom in: House Bill 1104, which a state Senate committee passed this week, would: require schools to notify parents if their children check out library materials; prohibit sex education before the sixth grade; require students to use facilities that align with their assigned sex at birth; and ban students who were assigned male at birth from participating in girls' sports.

Catch up quick: The bill originally addressed student athletes' mental health concerns but was also amended to include language from other bills the committee passed previously.

What they're saying: Republican Sen. Clint Dixon said at the committee meeting that the amended bill has a "common thread empowering parents to ensure that children are learning and competing in safe and supportive atmospheres."

  • "Most importantly, this bill protects the rights of women to compete against each other in women athletic competition that is fair to each one of them," Dixon said.

Mike Griffin, public affairs representative of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told the committee his organization supports the amendments, particularly the sex education and parent notification components.

  • "I believe that's the line you draw there," he said. "I think those are very important and needed in our day."

The other side: Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, told Axios it was "extremely disappointing" to see the committee transform a bill that served a good purpose into one that would harm transgender youth in Georgia.

  • He cited a Washington Post story that says states with similar laws targeting LGBTQ youth reported higher rates of school hate crimes towards those students.

Context: Many schools already have in place bans on transgender students playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity thanks to the Georgia High School Association adopting that stance in 2022.

  • HB 1104 would expand that prohibition to all public schools and private schools that compete with their public counterparts in sports.

Reality check: Graham said there is only a small group of students in Georgia who identify as nonbinary or not with the gender they were assigned at birth.

  • "We don't have a problem here in Georgia or anywhere in the country of transgender students posing a safety threat to their cisgender peers," he said. "This really is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist."

What's next: HB 1104 will move to the Senate floor for debate.

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