UTAH (ABC4) – The Utah State Legislature passed H.B. 11, or, Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities, on Friday, and the feelings surrounding the bill are very mixed.
The bill “addresses student athlete participation in gender-designated sports in the public education system,” but more specifically, requires schools to designate athletic activities by sex, making it so that transgender athletes must remain on their “biological” team.
The legislation prohibits a male student from competing against another school on a team designated for female students.
There has been so major pushback on the bill in the House, and the Utah House Democratic Caucus has issued the following statement:
“H.B. 11 is an awful bill brought about by an abhorrent process. For the Senate to spring this bill on the legislature in the final hours of the legislative session is a terrible process neglecting responsibility of thoughtful deliberation with public input and constitutional considerations. The needless energy spent on this bill has caused many important bills to forgo a hearing and the opportunity to pass. We applaud the Governor in his promise to veto. Because of that and the late hour, the House Democratic caucus made a strategic decision not to speak against the bill more than needed. We know where we stand, and our constituents are with us.”
As Governor Cox promises to veto the bill, the House Democratic Caucus says that the bill “hurts our families, friends, and children,” and that it sends a message to all transgender and intersex kids that they don’t belong.
They believe that the bill “creates an atmosphere of fear,” and “gives permission for a set of kids to be excluded and bullied into not participating.”
The Caucus calls the bill unconstitutional, and says that the bill “has nothing to do with protecting women’s sports and everything to do with fighting a culture war battle.”
The opposition has stated otherwise, as Senator Curtis Bramble and Representative Kera Birkeland issued a statement regarding the bill:
“Women should not be edged out of their own sport. H.B. 11 preserves the integrity of women’s sports and ensures female athletes have fair competition. For all those opposing the bill because they hope the issue will go away, that is wrong. We cannot sit back and do nothing. Transgender kids deserve support; however, the fact remains that biological boys and girls are built differently. Male athletes have a natural competitive advantage over female athletes.”
They say that H.B. 11 the debate is ongoing, and that transgender athletes need to be able to play sports, but that they “must preserve the integrity of women’s sports.”
“As a mother, coach and referee and as a proud father of an elite female athlete, we stand in support of H.B. 11. It is not perfect, but it puts us on the right path to have the conversations that will allow us to create a fair and safe place for women to compete.”
The debate is culturally divisive, and the results of the bill will be met with ongoing debate.