Saturday, September 23, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bill that would bar trans kids from public school sports passes House

President Biden has said he would veto the bill should it defy the odds and survive in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Leveraging their recent House majority, congressional Republicans cleared a measure Thursday that, if made law, would threaten federal funding for schools where female-only sport teams are open to transgender women and girls.

Florida Congressman Gregory Steube’s measure, which passed in the House this afternoon on a 219-203 party-line vote, would amend sex-based discrimination protections under Title IX to block what the legislation describes as people whose birth sex is male from competing in women’s athletic programs run by public educational institutions.

Encompassing primary and secondary schools as well as universities, any educational institution that receives federal funding would have to comply with the bill, whose terms also purport to legally recognize sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth."

The legislation narrowly survived a Democrat-led vote to send it back to committee for a second look; that effort failed 204-218.

Steube's two prior attempts to get similar legislation through the House failed. The success of his latest effort, H.R. 734, came after Republicans gained narrow control of the lower chamber in November’s midterm elections. The lawmaker in February positioned his legislation as leveling the playing field for cisgendered female athletes.

“Whether it’s on the field, court, track, or in the pool: House Republicans have shown today that we stand on the side of equality and fairness for female athletes,” Steube tweeted Thursday afternoon.

On the other side of the aisle, the bill’s passage brought swift condemnation.

“HR 734 is a harmful, hateful bill that is part of a larger, sinister campaign attacking trans kids for political points,” Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline tweeted. “It’s shameful and wrong and must not be allowed to become law.”

Not mincing words, another Democrat, New York Representative Dan Goldman, called the measure transphobic.

“We can’t stand for these hateful bills that hurt our children and codify bigotry,” Goldman posted to Twitter.

The legislation is most likely dead on arrival in the Senate, which is under Democratic control. President Biden has also said that he would veto the bill if it made its way to his desk.

“At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk,” the White House said in a statement Monday. “Instead of addressing the pressing issues that families and students face today—such as raising teacher pay, keeping guns out of schools, addressing the mental health crisis our youth face, and helping students learn and recover academically from unprecedented disruptions—Congressional Republicans have instead chosen to prioritize policies that discriminate against children.”

The Biden administration has taken steps in recent weeks to address attempts at the state level to bar transgender athletes from participating on the team of their choice. The Department of Education proposed a a Title IX amendment on April 6 to block schools from adopting what it called a one-size-fits-all ban on trans athletes.

States pushing their right to exclude transgender athletes from school sports also face Supreme Court scrutiny. Earlier this month, the justices refused to help West Virginia revive a state law that opponents framed as blanket discrimination.

Follow @@BenjaminSWeiss
Categories / Civil Rights, Education, Government, National, Sports

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.