Shortly after a high-profile lawsuit was filed in Connecticut against a recent state policy allowing biological males to participate in girls’ sports, legislators in Ohio are taking action to “Save Women’s Sports” from transgender athletes.
In a press release in late-February, the Ohio House of Representatives announced a new bill, the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” proposed by Republican state representatives Jena Powell and Reggie Stoltzfus that “seeks to promote fairness to all and preserve the integrity of school sports” by keeping biological males out of female athletic events.
“The Save Women’s Sports Act ensures that women are not forced to compete against men playing on women’s sports teams,” reads the release. “The bill would designate male and female sports teams be based upon the biological sex of an individual, meaning that biological males cannot play on female teams.”
The legislation would apply to all public schools and private schools that are members of state or national athletic associations.
“The Save Women’s Sports Act is a fairness issue for women,” Powell said at a February 25 press conference announcing the bill. “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.”
In her comments promoting the new bill, Powell specifically cited recent developments in Connecticut in which two transgender runners have dominated girl’s track in the state. Titles that were held by nine different girls in the year prior to the state’s new pro-transgender policy went into effect, Powell noted, have been held by just two biological male runners since.
“The legislation goes further to protect a school or college who preserve women-only teams from being punished by a government entity under a state or local non-discrimination law,” the press release explains. “Additionally, the bill allows 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 bill also creates a process to resolve any disputes over a student’s sex and respectfully accommodates those who have an intersex condition or disorder of sexual development to demonstrate they are, in fact, a female. Further, the Save Women’s Sports Act also will make sure biological men who identify as a female cannot be categorized as a woman to compete against women in sports.”
As Powell referenced, Connecticut has gained national attention due to recent eye-opening developments in its high school track competitions. The dominance of the competition by two biological males who identify as female in the state over the last three years has resulted in a high-profile lawsuit from Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of three female runners.
“Ever since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference adopted a policy that allows males who identify as female to compete in girls’ athletic events, boys have consistently deprived Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels,” ADF said in a February 12 press release announcing its lawsuit against Connecticut’s new policy. “Mitchell, for example, would have won the 2019 state championship in the women’s 55-meter indoor track competition, but because two males took first and second place, she was denied the gold medal. Soule and Smith likewise have been denied medals and/or advancement opportunities.”
“The complaint filed in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools with the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut explains that CIAC’s new policy and others like it pose a concrete threat to Title IX gains because ‘inescapable biological facts of the human species [are] not stereotypes, “social constructs,” or relics of past discrimination. As a result of these many inherent physiological differences between men and women after puberty, male athletes consistently achieve records 10-20% higher than comparably fit and trained women across almost all athletic events, with even wider consistent disparities in long-term endurance events and contests of sheer strength such as weight-lifting,'” the release details.
“As a result of CIAC’s policy, two males were permitted to compete in girls’ athletic competitions beginning in the 2017 track season,” the release explains. “Between them, they have taken 15 women’s state championship titles (titles held in 2016 by nine different Connecticut girls) and have taken more than 85 opportunities to participate in higher level competitions from female track athletes in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons alone.”