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Louisiana bill to ban trans athletes thwarted by a single vote – but another is hot on its heels

Maggie Baska May 5, 2021
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trans rights protest chicago illinois

Demonstrators protest for trans rights on 25 February 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in Louisiana rejected a cruel bill that would ban trans athletes from competing on girls’ sports teams in schools by a narrow one-vote margin.

The Louisiana House Education Committee on Tuesday (4 May) voted 6-5 to reject HB 542, an anti-trans bill proposed by Republican representative Beryl Amedee, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans joined Democrats on the committee to reject the bill.

The rejected bill would require publicly-funded elementary, middle and high schools and colleges and universities in the state to “designate intercollegiate, interscholastic or intramural athletic teams according to the biological sex of the team members”.

The legislation added that the “biological difference between females and males… especially as it relates to natural levels of testosterone” – resulted in “greater degrees” of “strength, speed and endurance” in men than women. As such, it argued that having “separate sex-specific teams furthers efforts to promote sex equality” by letting “female athletes to demonstrate their skill” and benefit from “other long-term benefits that flow from success in athletic endeavors”.

Louisiana Trans Advocates, the only statewide transgender advocacy group and social support organisation in Louisiana, wrote on Twitter that HB 542 being rejected was a “win” for the trans community.

The organisation wrote: “HB 542 fails to pass the House Education Committee. Today is a win for trans youth.”

However, Louisiana lawmakers are currently debating a similar bill proposed by Republican senator Beth Mizell. Lawmakers on the Louisiana Senate Education unanimously approved Mizell’s bill, SB 156, on Thursday (29 April), and it now goes to the state’s Senate for a vote.

Mizel’s bill argued that it will “offer opportunities to each student to participate in team sporting events on an equal basis”. The bill would require publicly funded schools to “designate intercollegiate, interscholastic or intramural athletic teams according to the biological sex of the team members”. The proposed legislation would prohibit “a team designated for females, girls or women from being open to students who are not biologically female”.

SB 156 would also apply to any elementary or secondary school or “postsecondary educational institution” that receives state funds.

If the bill does pass through the Senate and state’s House, there is a chance that it might not be signed into law. Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has vowed to veto any “unnecessary” and “discriminatory” legislation which targets “fragile” trans youth.

The Democrat promised on 19 April that he would oppose bills seeking to ban trans youth in sports and another bill that would make it illegal for trans minors to access vital gender-affirming care. Edwards said both measures were “unnecessary and discriminatory”, and he was “hopeful” the state’s legislature would “not seek to advance those bills”.

 

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