The Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday approved two anti-transgender bills, one that would bar trans girls from playing on girls’ school sports teams and another that would force public school personnel to out trans students to their parents or guardians.
The bills now go to the state’s Senate, where they are likely to fail, as the chamber has a Democratic majority. Republicans have a majority of seats in the House.
The sports legislation, House Bill 1387, would bar trans girls from female teams at public elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. “The purpose of House Bill 1387 is to protect our girls and young women from being forced to compete against biological males,” Del. Karen Greenhalgh, its sponsor, said in a recent hearing, TV station WRIC reports. “Today, even the strongest, fastest girls in Virginia must step up to the starting line and know, ‘I can’t win.’”
Her comments came even though there is no widespread domination of female sports by trans women and girls. The Virginia High School League currently evaluates the eligibility of trans female athletes on a case-by-case basis, WRIC notes.
The outing measure, House Bill 2432, would require public school administrators and teachers to notify at least one parent or guardian if a student “is self-identifying as a gender different from the student’s biological sex,” a summary of the bill states. It also says, “In no event shall referring to and raising the child in a manner consistent with the child’s biological sex, including related mental health or medical decisions, be considered abuse or neglect.”
Del. Danica Roem (pictured), a Democrat and the nation’s first out trans state legislator, condemned the bill strongly. “You’re dealing with forcibly outing trans kids, and you didn’t even talk to the one person in this body who actually knows what it’s like to be scared to death as a 13- or 14-year-old kid of anyone finding out that you’re actually trans,” she said, according to public radio station WVTF. “You have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea the harm you’re causing.”
Democrats said they will do all they can to prevent these bills from getting to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk. The Senate has already defeated three trans-exclusionary sports bills and three bills restricting trans health care, plus an outing bill.
LGBTQ+ rights groups denounced the bills that delegates passed Tuesday. “The leadership in the House of Delegates has shown, very clearly, that they care much more about political posturing and craven primary campaign pandering than they do about the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender and nonbinary youth in Virginia,” Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a press release. “The contrast between the two chambers is stark this year, with the pro-equality Senate dismissing the baseless and unnecessary attempts to restrict LGBTQ+ Virginians’ rights while the House is focusing on bad faith arguments to jump-start their anti-equality reelection campaigns. LGBTQ+ Virginians are real people, and it’s disturbing to see our community continuously used as political pawns — especially when the targets are youth. As Virginians head to the polls this fall, rest assured: We won’t forget who stood with us and who threw us under the bus.”
“Today, radical politicians in the Virginia House passed not one, but two anti-LGBTQ+ bills —both of which target transgender students who are already facing marginalization and isolation,” said a statement from Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “Like every student, LGBTQ+ kids deserve an education that is inclusive, safe, and enables them to succeed. Outing minors without their consent can put children in active danger as well as prevent them from finding needed support from a trusted adult. Preventing kids from playing sports with their peers sends a dangerous and false message that they don’t belong — and is based on fearmongering around transgender kids, not facts. These are two different bills, but each are part of a coordinated effort to attack transgender kids who are just trying to navigate their adolescence. Virginians deserve better.”