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The Mississippi state Senate passed a bill on Thursday prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women’s’ or girls’ sports in Mississippi universities and schools.
Lawmakers in eleven other states are introducing similar restrictions regarding athletics and “gender-confirming health care for transgender minors this year,” according to The Associated Press.
On January 20, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that would ban discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The order read:
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports…
It is the policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The Mississippi bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Angela Hill, remarked on her reasoning for introducing the legislation.
“I’ve had numerous coaches across the state call me and believe that they feel there’s a need for a policy in Mississippi because they are beginning to have some concerns of having to deal with this,” she said.
In the next step, the bill will go to the Republican-controlled House, where it will be further developed in the coming weeks.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted a response to Biden’s executive order on February 4, including his personal connection to the issue:
If there’s one thing that we are passionate about in the Reeves family, it’s my daughters’ sports. I know that the lessons learned through team sports have led to so many successful lives and careers for women and have truly helped provide a more equal opportunity for success.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) February 4, 2021
Reeves added that watching his daughters participate in sports is “why I am so disappointed over President Biden’s actions to force young girls like them to compete with biological males for access to athletics. It will limit opportunity for so many competitors like my daughters. It is bad policy and it is wrong for America.”
Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, released a statement condemning the bills across multiple states, including detailed descriptions of each of the pieces of legislation they find problematic.
“Opponents of equality failed to claw back marriage equality and failed in their push for bathroom bills. This legislation is simply the latest iteration of their failing fight,” the statement said.
On Thursday, the North Dakota state House passed a bill “that would prohibit youth transgender athletes from joining teams that match their gender identity,” according to The Hill. The bill also “bans sporting events from receiving public funding if they have a trans athlete playing on a team that matches their gender identity.”
As reported by the Human Rights Campaign, other states that are considering similar legislation this week include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
People who support bills like the one passed in the Mississippi Senate maintain that allowing transgender girls to compete in girls’ sports is unfair because they, being born male, are “naturally stronger, faster and bigger than those born female,” the AP pointed out.
Those who oppose such legislation say that laws like this one would violate Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination. They also contend that the bills would be in conflict with U.S. Supreme Court and 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings.