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Fury, Condemnation as House Debate Begins on Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Fury, Condemnation as House Debate Begins on Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Lois Frankel, Fatima Goss-Graves, and Mark Pocan

A U.S. House committee will consider the bill Wednesday.

The Congressional Equality Caucus and others are condemning an anti-transgender sports bill that the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will consider Wednesday.

The committee announced Monday that it had scheduled the bill, House Resolution 734, for markup Wednesday. Markup means the committee will review the text of a bill, decide if amendments are needed, and vote on whether to send it to the full House.

HR 734, introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, would make it a violation of Title IX for recipients of federal financial assistance to allow transgender girls or women to participate in girls’ and women’s athletic programs. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law banning sex discrimination in education.

“This bill would effectively ban all trans girls and trans women from participating on school sports teams, depriving them of an important opportunity to be part of their school community, learn sportsmanship, and challenge themselves,” says a press release from the Equality Caucus, made up of LGBTQ+ and allied members of Congress. Eighteen states have adopted laws to this effect, and HR 734 would take this nationwide.

The chairs of the Equality Caucus and the Democratic Women’s Caucus both denounced the bill, and they were joined by the president of the National Women’s Law Center.

“There are plenty of pressing issues facing both our education system and girls’ and women’s sports, such as teacher shortages and poor pay and a lack of resources and sexual harassment respectively. Rather than addressing any of these issues, anti-LGBTQI+ Republicans on this Committee will spend their first legislative markup voting to ban trans kids from participating in sports,” Equality Caucus Chair Mark Pocan said in the release. “This is not about girls’ and women’s sports; it’s about attacking trans kids. This sports ban is just the opening salvo in their larger efforts to limit the rights of and demonize the LGBTQI+ community, and the Equality Caucus will do everything it can to defeat it.”

“Every kid deserves the opportunity to participate in sports and learn hard work, discipline, and teamwork. But today, House Republicans have announced their intention to advance a bill depriving trans girls in every state of these opportunities,” added Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Lois Frankel. “We will not let anti-LGBTQI+ Republicans — who have refused to work with us on addressing real gender equity issues — use ‘protecting women’ as an excuse to attack trans youth. When my Republican colleagues want to join with us to address the actual pressing issues impacting girls’ and women’s sports, I stand ready to work with them.”

“At the National Women’s Law Center, we have been fighting for Title IX protections for over fifty years and are unequivocally clear that discriminating against transgender and intersex women and girls threatens opportunities for all of us,” President and CEO Fatima Goss Graves said. “Women and girls who play sports deserve equal treatment and resources, including facilities, scholarship opportunities, pay for coaches that are equal to those of their male counterparts, strong protections against sexual abuse and harassment, and more. Prohibiting trans women and girls from playing sports is not only discrimination, it steers us further from Title IX’s promise.”

The committee is chaired by notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. In 2009, when the Congress was considering an expansion of federal hate-crimes law — which ultimately passed — Foxx said the murder of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard in 1998 was not an antigay hate crime but instead took place in the commitment of a robbery. “It’s really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills,” she said at the time.

In announcing the markup, Foxx issued a statement saying, “The Biden administration is orchestrating a radical culture shift in America’s schools that is fundamentally changing what students are exposed to in the classroom and on the field. We’ve learned that prolonged school closures have set students back years in learning and development, yet the Left is more focused on peddling an agenda that silences parents’ voices and allows biological males to compete in women’s sports. By putting forth legislative measures that create a Parents Bill of Rights and protect women’s sports, Republicans are making good on our promise to establish a future that is built on freedom, where a child’s academics are put first and parents have a say in in their children’s curriculum.”

The Parents Bill of Rights, similar to legislation considered in many states, requires school districts to make information about lessons accessible to parents, along with a list of books in school libraries. It does have the potential to be used against LGBTQ-inclusive materials. But its chief sponsor, Republican Julia Letlow of Louisiana, has said it will simply “ensure parents always have a seat at the table when it comes to their child’s education.”

In introducing the trans-exclusionary sports bill last month, Steube said in a press release, “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports is a complete affront to the hardworking women and girls who have spent their lives training to achieve their dreams. It’s simple: biological males have no place in women’s sports. Last Spring, Sarasota’s own, Emma Weyant, was robbed of her NCAA Championship in the 500 Freestyle by a biological male, Lia Thomas. Floridians and Americans across the country are rightly outraged at what has become of women’s sports. We’ve seen time and time again how the far left only favors fairness when it aligns with their woke agenda. That’s why today, I’m pleased reintroduce legislation that ensures women and girls a fair playing field in competitive sports.”

In the same release, Foxx said, “I refuse to sacrifice the safety of girls and women on the field and in the locker room to the woke Left. The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 will restore the safety, privacy, and opportunities of women and girls in sports. Our nation passed Title IX 50 years ago to give women equal access to education and athletic opportunities. This revolutionized women’s sports. Moving backward is not an option. We must honor the original intent of Title IX.” Foxx is an original cosponsor of the bill, along with other leading right-wingers in the House, including Matt Gaetz of Florida.

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