On Wednesday, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill to bar older transgender girls from participating in school sports that match their gender identity. This means transgender girls in Kentucky are in danger of being barred from playing girls’ sports after the bill’s passage today. This will inch the measure closer toward becoming law.
The Kentucky senators also amended the bill Wednesday to allow children in elementary school to play on teams that match their gender identity.
Under the bill, called the “Save Women’s Sports Act”, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control would be directed to ban those identified as males on their birth certificates from engaging in girls’ team sports.
After an emotional plea from Democratic Senator Karen Berg, the mother of a transgender son, who shared her own family story saying “the bill is hurtful because you’re excluding these Children,” the Senate vote was 27-8 for the ban.
The bill, which is aimed at preventing older transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams, moves to the House next. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.
To become law, the bill will have to go through the Kentucky House of Representatives, first before a committee then the entire body. If no changes are made, the measure will go to the governor for final sign-off.
Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has been supportive of LGBTQ+ rights over his tenure, speaking out against sexual orientation and gender descrimination during a rally at the state Capitol in 2020. However, if he were to veto the bill, just a simple majority is needed to override his decision.
Numerous human rights groups were voicing their disagreement with the proposed bill to ban the transgender athletes, including the ACLU of Kentucky , where spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw said in a statement, “Excluding trans students deprives them of opportunities available to their peers and send the message they are not worthy of a full life.”
Human Rights Watch was also swift to condemn the measure saying, “Preventing trans children from engaging in team sports denies them the physical and emotional benefits of the game that are especially important as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement, “By passing this bill the Kentucky State Senate has put misinformation and disapproval of transgender youth ahead of the best interest of the kids of the Commonwealth. Legislators have failed to provide examples of any problem in Kentucky related to trans kids playing sports alongside their peers, the only justification for this bill is discrimination against kids who are different.”
Republican Senator Robby Mills, the bill’s lead sponsor, has focused on high school athletics, saying it would ensure that girls compete against other “biological females.”
“It would be crushing for a young lady to train her whole high school athletic career to have it end competing against a biological male in a state tournament or a state finals,” Mills said Wednesday.
Under the bill, a student’s gender would be determined by the “biological sex” indicated on the student’s certified birth certificate,” Mills added.
Republican Senator Max Wise, in supporting the bill, said he wished the measure was more broadly written to apply to college athletics in Kentucky.