State Watch

Virginia lawmaker introduces transgender athlete ban


A Virginia legislator has introduced a measure to bar transgender athletes in the state through high school from competing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity, building on a less restrictive piece of legislation that failed to advance when the legislature last met.

The bill, which Del. Karen Greenhalgh, a Republican representing Virginia Beach, filed on Tuesday, would amend an existing state law requiring that public school students undergo a physical examination to determine whether they are “physically fit” for athletic competition to include an examination to determine a student’s sex assigned at birth.

The measure would also mandate that school sports teams through college be designated based on “biological sex” rather than gender, though collegiate-level athletes won’t be subject to physicals.

“Each interscholastic, intramural, or club athletic team or sport sponsored by a public school that is expressly designated for ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’ … shall not be open to any student whose biological sex is male,” the bill states.

The measure does not include a similar provision for student athletes assigned female at birth.

Schools that defy the law and allow transgender women and girls to participate on female sports teams will be barred from interscholastic athletic competition, according to the bill, which also creates a civil cause of action for a school or individual student that “suffers harm” as a result of a violation.

Greenhalgh’s proposed measure also includes protections for students fearing retaliation from their school or athletic association if they report that a transgender athlete is competing in violation of the law.

Greenhalgh has not commented publicly on the bill and did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

In an August interview with a local Virginia radio station, Greenhalgh condemned the Biden administration’s proposed changes to Title IX, which would expand the definition of sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, accusing the president of enforcing his “radical gender identity policies” on students and schools.

And in September, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) administration introduced a slate of new education policies that would restrict which restrooms transgender students are allowed to use at school and require parents to consent to their child changing the name or pronouns they use at school.

The state’s proposed “model policies” sparked widespread outrage and motivated thousands of Virginia students to walk out of class in a coordinated protest just days after the policies were introduced.

The Virginia General Assembly is set to convene on Jan. 11 for the 2023 legislative session. Should Greenhalgh’s bill become law, Virginia would join more than a dozen other states in barring transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

Tags Biden administration Glenn Youngkin Karen Greenhalgh LGBTQ rights Title IX transgender athletes Virginia Virginia Beach Virginia General Assembly
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