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Louisiana Again Approves Anti-Trans Sports Bill, Setting Up Veto Fight

John Bel Edwards
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards photographed by Marie Constantin

Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a similar bill last year. He hasn't said what he'll do now.

Louisiana legislators have once again approved a bill barring transgender females from competing on girls' and women's school sports teams, raising the question of whether Gov. John Bel Edwards will again veto it, as he did last year.

The Louisiana Senate gave final approval to the bill Monday, going along with a House change that removed intramural sports from the legislation. It still covers interscholastic sports at the K-12 and college levels, affecting both public schools and any private ones that receive state funds.

Edwards, a Democrat, has called the deletion of intramural sports significant but said he still believes the bill is unnecessary, the Associated Press reports. He has not stated if he will sign or veto it. He has 10 days to make a decision.

Upon his veto in 2021, he released a statement dubbing that legislation "a solution in search of a problem," as even the author of the bill couldn't cite "a single case where this was an issue." He also expressed sympathy for young trans people.

Lawmakers attempted to override his veto, but the House tally was two votes short of the required two-thirds majority. This year, both the House and Senate have approved the bill by veto-proof margins, the AP notes.

Several civil rights groups are urging Edwards to veto the new legislation. "Governor Edwards must listen to the majority of Louisianans who support equal rights for transgender and LGBTQ+ people and use his power to veto this hateful bill," said a statement from Peyton Rose Michelle, secretary on the Louisiana Trans Advocates board of directors. "We know that young people's health and freedoms come first, no matter their gender, and we'll keep fighting for a better state for all kids."

"Governor Edwards vetoed this exact piece of legislation last year because discriminatory, anti-transgender bills are unacceptable government overreach," added SarahJane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality. "With the stroke of a pen, our governor has the chance to be a champion for young people again, and we press upon him again to do what is right."

"This false narrative that Louisiana politicians are 'defending' women in sports is dangerous and misleading; they have cared about women's sports for exactly as long as they've used it as a reason to attack LGBTQ+ people, and not a second longer," Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a press release.

And the American Civil Liberties Union's Louisiana affiliate issued a statement calling the bill "cruel and unnecessary legislation that targets Louisiana's trans youth for bullying and discrimination."

To date, anti-trans sports bills have become law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Enforcement of the Idaho and West Virginia laws is halted while lawsuits proceed. Utah's and Kentucky's passed through overrides of governors' vetoes. Governors in Indiana, Kansas, and North Dakota have also vetoed such bills, but the Indiana legislature is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a possible override.

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