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Bill would ban trans athletes from girls school sports

Special to the Legal News

Published: March 18, 2020

Fairness to female athletes is the reasoning behind a recently introduced bill in the Ohio House of Representatives, sponsors of the measure contend.
The end result, however, is likely to rile advocates of the state's transgender population.
The Save Women's Sports Act would ensure that women are not forced to compete against men who play on women's sports teams, said the freshman Republican duo - Reps. Jena Powell of Arcanum and Reggie Stoltzfus of Minerva.
It would designate that male and female sports teams at all Ohio schools, colleges and universities be based upon the biological sex of an individual, resulting in a prohibition of biological males competing on female teams, the lawmakers announced at a press conference this week.
"The Save Women's Sports Act is a fairness issue for women," Powell said. "This bill ensures that every little girl who works hard to make it on a podium is not robbed of her chance by a biological male competing against her in a biological female sport.
"We want every little girl to achieve her athletic dream here in the state of Ohio."
According to House Bill 527, each private or public school, college or university that participates in athletic competitions administered by an organization regulating interscholastic athletic conferences shall designate interscholastic athletic teams based on the sex of the participants as follows:
• Separate teams for participants of the female sex within female sports divisions;
• Separate teams for participants of the male sex within male sports divisions;
• If applicable, co-ed teams for participants of the female and male sexes within co-ed sports divisions.
"No school, interscholastic conference or organization that regulates interscholastic athletics shall permit individuals of the male sex to participate on athletic teams or in athletic competitions designated only for participants of the female sex," the bill stipulated.
"It is not my desire to hurt anyone or punish those who may be affected by this legislation in some way, but to protect fair competition," Stoltzfus said. "I seek to treat all people with dignity and respect by promoting a level playing field in Ohio's interscholastic athletics."
Powell offered the state of Connecticut as an example in which two high school-aged transgender women have unseated the nine biological female athletes who previously held 15 women's state championship titles in track and field.
Injured parties have filed a complaint in federal court that alleges the state athletic association's practice of allowing biological boys to complete on girls' teams violates the Title IX guarantee protecting equal athletic opportunities for women and girls.
"We want everyone in the state of Ohio to be able to compete," Powell said. "The beauty of this bill is that we are including everyone in sports, and upholding the integrity of women's sports."
In instances in which a participant's sex is disputed, the participant shall establish her sex by presenting a signed physician's statement indicating the participant's sex based upon only the participant's internal and external reproductive anatomy, the participant's normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone and an analysis of the participant's genetic makeup - a respectful accommodation to those who have an intersex condition or disorder of sexual development, the lawmakers noted.
HB 527 also would protect a school or college that preserves women-only teams from being punished by a government entity under a state or local non-discrimination law.
Additionally, the bill would allow any student a private right of action who may be deprived of an athletic opportunity or is harmed by a school or college that violates this act and protects the student from any retaliatory actions taken by any school
The legislation would apply to all public schools and colleges and any private schools or colleges that are members of a state or national athletic association.
The bill has been referred to the Primary and Secondary Education committee.
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