Story at a glance
- Kentucky House lawmakers have advanced a bill banning transgender girls from playing on school sports teams aligning with their gender identity.
- The bill now heads back to the state Senate for a final vote.
- Legal challenges have been brought against similar legislation in Idaho, Connecticut and West Virginia.
Kentucky House lawmakers on Thursday advanced a bill seeking to ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, sending the legislation back to the state Senate, where it was introduced, for a final vote.
Under the bill, which is known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” school sports teams for Kentucky students in grades six through 12 designated as “girls” teams “shall not be open to members of the male sex.”
In this case, “sex” is defined as that which is listed on the child’s original birth certificate, or their sex assigned at birth, meaning even transgender girls who have legally amended their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender will be barred from girls’ sports teams.
Similar legislation introduced in Idaho, Connecticut and West Virginia have faced legal challenges for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky spokesman Samuel Crankshaw called the Kentucky Senate bill a “solution in search of a non-existent problem.”
“Proponents of SB83 provided no examples of any Kentucky students being harmed by including trans girls in girls’ sports, even when directly asked in a Senate committee hearing,” he said. “While there are no instances of inclusion causing harm, we know for a fact that many children will be harmed if SB83 becomes law.”
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, also denounced the bill as unnecessary and called on state Senators to “do the right thing.”
“The benefits of participation in school sports are wide-ranging, they build character and help kids remain active. Unfortunately today Kentucky Legislators voted to deny transgender kids, who are simply trying to navigate their childhoods, the opportunity and benefits that come from playing school sports,” she said in a statement. “While the lawmakers in the House failed Kentucky’s transgender youth today, there is still a chance for state Senators to do the right thing and be the ally that their colleagues in the House were not.”
Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky, said trans children should have the same opportunities as cisgender children to pursue their passions, including sports.
“Lawmakers should stop meddling in the lives of innocent kids trying to play with friends on their schools’ sports teams and focus on more pressing issues that pose legitimate threats in Kentucky,” he said.
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