Legislation is for ‘every dad who’s got a daughter’
The Democrat-controlled U.S. House wants to force schools to let biologically male students compete in girls’ sports.
State lawmakers in Tennessee and Washington have their own ideas, however, taking preemptive action to keep school sports separated by biological sex.
They introduced bills last month that would require schools to identify students by their original birth certificates for the purpose of deciding eligibility in single-sex sports. Such requirements contradict the federal Equality Act, which would set sports eligibility on the subjective gender identity of student athletes.
The odds for federal legislation are slim. The Equality Act is awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate more than seven months after the House passed it, and it’s unlikely President Trump would sign it.
But the Tennessee bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey Dec. 9, faces its own hurdles as the Legislature prepares to reconvene next week. Transgender sports activist Chris Mosier tweeted about it Saturday, putting a national spotlight on an issue that galvanizes progressives.
Meanwhile, the Washington bill by Republican Rep. Brad Klippert has not technically been introduced. The lawmaker “prefiled” the bill Dec. 4. The legislative session also starts next week.
Lawmakers told The College Fix they were spurred to act by the politicization of sports, biological differences between men and women and personal reasons.
Girls’ track and field in Connecticut, for example, has been dominated by transgender girls in recent years, prompting a federal Title IX investigation. The Big Sky Conference also named a biologically male runner its “female athlete of the week” in cross country in October.
Klippert said a few constituents brought national news to his attention regarding “boys dominating female sports across the country.” Asked to be put in contact with those constituents for interviews, Klippert said they did not want their identities disclosed to a reporter.
Griffey said he was also concerned about the lack of definition for “transgender.” Students may refer to themselves as transgender regardless of what stage of “transition” they are in, if they have taken any step toward transitioning at all, he said.
Republican lawmaker Bruce Griffey in Tennessee has introduced TN HB 1572, a bill that would prevent trans athletes in schools from playing on teams that match their gender identity.
Schools could be fined $10,000 for allowing trans students to play as the correct gender.
— The Chris Mosier (@TheChrisMosier) January 4, 2020
Penalties for violation: removal from public office, five-year ban on serving again
Tennessee House Bill 1572 states that all elementary and secondary schools “shall require, for an official or unofficial school-sanctioned athletic or sporting event, that each athlete participating in the athletic or sporting event participates with and competes against other athletes based on the athlete’s biological sex as indicated on the athlete’s original birth certificate issued at the time of birth.”
Schools would not be allowed to accept “revised or amended” birth certificates “with respect to the sex of an athlete.” They would become ineligible to receive public funds from state and local governments if they violate the proposed law.
Additionally, district attorneys general would be required to bring civil actions against state and local officials who either violate or intend to violate the proposed law. They would be treated as criminal defendants, with civil penalties up to $10,000. If found guilty, they would also be removed from public office and hit with five-year bans on serving in public office or as a school administrator, including principal.
Sponsor Griffey explicitly cited the U.S. House passage of the Equality Act as a spur “for states to take a stand,” telling the Tennessee Star the federal legislation would create “a civil right for male athletes to self-identify as females in sports competitions.”
Griffey told The Fix he was also motivated to intervene by reports of transgender domination of girls’ sports across the country, as well as his daughter’s own participation in youth sports. He proposed HB 1572 with “every dad who’s got a daughter” in mind, to “ensure integrity and fairness” in girls’ sports.
Biologically, males have “bigger hearts [and] stronger lungs” among other things, giving them “an unfair advantage” over females in many athletic activities, Griffey said. He added that fairness goes both ways: Females have many attributes that give them certain advantages over males in other areas.
Klippert’s House Bill 2201 states that Washington schools and nonprofit entities “must prohibit male students from competing with and against female students in athletic activities with separate classifications for male and female students.” It defines males as those “whose sex assigned at birth was male.”
Unlike Griffey’s bill, it contains no fines or removal from public office for failure to comply.
Klippert told The Fix his prefiled bill was preemptive and in response to national events. He’s personally interested because “girls have a right to participate in individualized sports and shouldn’t be forced to compete against boys.”
The sexes have immutable differences such as “different chemicals, and larger muscle mass,” he said, which creates a “competitive disadvantage” in various competitive sports.
The lawmaker told KEPR that he’s not aware of transgender competition in girls’ sports as a state or local issue in his district. The bill must be formally introduced in order to move to committee when the legislative session starts.
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