The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 25, 2022 1:00 am

General Assembly

Panel cursed on transgender bill

OKs banning biological males from girls' prep sports

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Profanity and chants rained down on lawmakers Monday after the House Education Committee voted 8-4 to pass a bill banning transgender girls for participating on schools' female sports teams.

“Stand up, fight back” and curse words were yelled while others accused GOP legislators of killing transgender youth who have higher rates of suicide. 

The vote came after several hours of testimony on House Bill 1041, which was amended to remove any reference to college sports. It now moves to the full House for discussion. Only Republicans supported the measure. 

“Despite us all being equal we are not the same,” said Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, noting “biological males” have physical advantages over “biological females.” She is the author of the legislation. 

Davis said several times the bill is meant to ensure a level playing field for girls involved with sports. She knew of only one example of a transgender girl playing on a girls team in Indiana – out of tens of thousands of athletes.

The legislation also sets up a grievance process and allows lawsuits to be filed for a violation. The bill does not apply to transgender girls playing on a boys' team.

Numerous supporters of the bill said biological males have increased strength, height and lung capacity – giving them an athletic advantage over biological females.

An Idaho state representative said her state has thrived despite claims a similar bill would cause an economic disaster if passed there. The law has never taken effect while it is being litigated.

Matt Sharp, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, supports the bill but opposed the removal of college sports. Virtually all the examples given Monday were in college sports.

Sharp said the bill would ensure girls aren't forced to compete against boys on a girls' team.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Alliance Defending Freedom as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

The Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opposed the bill as did the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which promised a lawsuit if the legislation passes.

Katie Blair, director of advocacy and public policy at the ACLU of Indiana, said the bill singles out trans students and is “hateful legislation.”

Corinne Youngs, legislative director for the Indiana Attorney General's Office, supported the bill and said it would be stronger if college sports were added back in.

“Women and girls need protection at all levels,” she said. The Attorney General's Office would defend any lawsuit. 

The Indiana High School Athletic Association said it already has a policy in place to handle the situation. Commissioner Paul Neidig said a “male-to-female applicant” has to demonstrate she doesn't have physical advantages over an equivalent-aged girl.

Several counselors and parents testified about the discrimination trans youth face and said the bill takes away an opportunity to participate in team sports alongside their friends.

Nathaniel Clawson, a Bloomington dad of a 9-year-old trans daughter, said she will be on hormone blockers when puberty begins so she won't have the so-called physical advantages being discussed.

“This bill puts fear into us as a family,” he said, noting his daughter is very interested in sports and volleyball specifically.

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