Republican-led US House to vote on ban on transgender student athletes
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol building is seen in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo
By Katharine Jackson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in women’s and girls’ school sports, weighing in on an issue that has riled social conservatives.
The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, and Democratic President Joe Biden has also voiced his opposition to the measure, calling it discriminatory.
The measure would change the civil rights law known as Title IX to require that a student’s sex be “based on an individual’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
Enacted in 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal funding. It was created to ensure equal opportunity for participation and opened the door for more women to participate in sports.
“Democrats have regressed so far backwards they are willing to erase the rights that women have fought decades to obtain, all to elevate biological males to the top of women’s podiums. The integrity of women’s sports must be protected,” Republican Representative Greg Steube, who introduced the bill, said on Wednesday.
Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, who said during Wednesday’s debate on the bill that she is raising a transgender daughter, said, “This bill fuels a virulent hate campaign against kids who just want to play with their friends.”
The White House on Monday said in a statement that the bill would effectively deny access to sports for transgender students, even at the elementary school level.
The bill “targets people for who they are and therefore is discriminatory” and Biden would veto it if it reached his desk, the statement said.
Republicans over the past year have stepped up their focus on transgender youth. On Wednesday, Florida education officials voted to ban classroom instruction on gender identity and social orientation in public schools through high school. That expanded on a law signed by likely Republican presidential candidate Governor Ron DeSantis, which had banned such lessons for younger students and was derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The Biden administration proposed a rule change to Title IX on April 6 that would prohibit schools from banning transgender athletes from playing on teams consistent with their gender identities, with exceptions possible for the highest levels of competition.
The U.S. Supreme Court on April 6 refused to let West Virginia enforce a state law banning transgender athletes from female sports teams at public schools, one of many Republican-backed measures across the country targeting LGBTQ rights.