Virginia bill would ban transgender athletes from women’s sports
The Virginia House of Delegates introduced legislation Monday that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports at all levels in Virginia schools.
“The purpose of House Bill 1837 is to protect our girls and young women from being forced to compete against biological males,” said delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach). “Similarly gifted and trained men will always have a physical advantage over women, that’s why we have women’s sports.”
A subcommittee of the Virginia House of Delegates voted along the party line to submit House Bill 1387 to the full Committee on Education. The controversial bill, which Greenhalgh supports, would ban transgender women and girls from competing on an “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural or association sports team” at any school or college in the state.
“Even the strongest and fastest girls in Virginia have to step out on the starting line and know, ‘I can’t win,'” said Greenhalgh. “Their goals are gone, their chance for gain and recognition and scholarship, it’s just not fair for women to lose those opportunities.”
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Legislation would require transgender athletes in the Commonwealth to participate in sports that match their biological sex. If passed, the law would apply to all athletes from kindergarten through 12th grade, in public colleges and universities, and in intercollegiate, interscholastic, and association sports.
Under current Virginia High School League (VHSL) regulations, transgender athletes who wish to have their identities recognized for competition must provide documentation of their transition, including lists of medications taken. The decision is then left to a VHSL district committee in individual cases.
Since these rules went into effect in 2014, 28 transgender students have applied and 25 have been granted the right to play on teams matching their gender identity.
Republicans currently control the Virginia state house by a margin of 51 to 47; However, Democrats hold a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, making the fate of the bill uncertain beyond the Virginia House.
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On his first day in office, Biden issued an executive order requiring students to play on sports teams based on their gender identity. Since the president’s firm stance on transgender athletes, an onslaught of bills has emerged from over two dozen states.
In 2021, lawmakers in at least 24 states have proposed similar legislation to ensure participation in women’s sports is based on female biology and not gender identity.
Federal legislation in 2021 has also been introduced in the House and Senate. The “Women and Girls in Athletics Protection Act” (HR 426, p. 251) states that schools that allow “biological males” to compete in girls’ athletics could lose federal funding.
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“Title IX created a fair and equal opportunity for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” said Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga. referring to the section of the 1972 Educational Amendments prohibiting sex discrimination in government-funded educational programs. “As someone who has learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence in sport my whole life, I am proud to spearhead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy the same opportunities on the sports field that Title IX guarantees.”