Recent reports suggest that transgender athletes in the US state of South Dakota could face a ban from competing in school sports events that match their gender identity after a piece of legislation championed by Governor Kristi Noem was approved by a committee. Even though there were concerns that the bill is discriminatory against transgender students and the action equals to bullying but every single Republican on the committee approved the bill.
South Dakota Most Likely To Ban Transgender Athletes From Competing In School Sports
The Republican politician, Governor Kristi Noem has worked hard with her lobby to get this bill approved, which cleared the Senate State Affairs committee – also controlled by the Republicans – with a high level of support.
Though previous attempts to get such a bill through have stalled at this stage, and the lawmakers appear keen to get this bill fast-tracked through.
Even though there are concerns that the bill is discriminatory against transgender students and is equivalent but every single Republican on the committee approved the bill.
The bill not only challenges the basic rights of student welfare and equality but also potentially threatens to expose schools to legal action over a political matter that has not proven to be an issue in the state.
Those backing this legislation claim that this protects girls competing in sports from transgender athletes who may be bigger, faster, and stronger than those competing alongside them in school sporting events.
Many cite the example of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who smashed a number of records when competing in a collegiate meet in December.
Jennifer Phalen, who has a transgender daughter that wants to participate on her school’s gymnastics team, told The Independent: “As a parent, I don’t really care if she becomes an elite athlete, but I want her to have the experiences of being on a team.
“Passage of this bill would directly hurt children. It would directly hurt my daughter and take away her freedom to participate in activities with her peers.”
Reportedly, some 10 states with a Republican-dominated Senate have passed similar bills, although two of those states – West Virginia and Idaho – have had laws stopped by federal judges.
However, in other states, the US Department of Justice has issued challenges to the bans, accusing them of violating federal law.
In support of the ban, Governor Noem’s policy advisor Rachel Oglesby said: “Allowing males to compete destroys fair competition and athletic opportunities for girls.
"Similarly gifted and trained males will always have physical advantages over females.”
The high school activities association, which is in charge of school sports, has made it a point to state that a fair competition policy is already in place that evaluates participation applications from transgender athletes on a case-by-case basis, with the athletics association stating that on the one occasion they allowed a transgender girl to play in girls league the competition was not spoiled.
The Associated School Boards have additionally warned the schools of the chance of losing federal funding if they are adjudged to have violated the rights of students upon investigation by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Diana Miller, on behalf of South Dakota’s largest school districts, stated: “This particular bill does nothing, does absolutely nothing as far as helping young people,
“What it is is discriminatory, unfair, and it’s not necessary.”
Roger Tellinghuisen, from the Human Rights Campaign – an organisation advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people, said: “This isn’t about an issue that’s really happening in South Dakota,
“It’s a political statement — that’s all it is.”