INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers have planned a committee hearing on a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ school sports.
House Bill 1041 would ban any student assigned male at birth from playing on a girls’ or women’s athletic team. If a school is in violation, students who claim to be adversely affected would be allowed to file a lawsuit.
“This legislation is the result of listening to the concerns of female student-athletes and parents in my district and across the state,” said State Rep. Michelle Davis (R-Whiteland), the bill’s author, in a statement. “The purpose of this bill is to protect fair competition in girls’ sports.”
“What we support is making sure that women’s sports are reserved for females, while still allowing every student the opportunity to play on men’s teams or co-ed teams,” said Matt Sharp, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a national organization that supports House Bill 1041.
Sharp said Alliance Defending Freedom has represented students in other states who he believes are being put at an unfair disadvantage.
“What science shows us is that there are differences between males and females,” Sharp said. “Those differences range from faster hitting speeds and running speeds.”
But others say there’s no merit to that argument.
“There are plenty of advantages that cisgender girls have over cisgender girls,” said Jayne Walters, a transgender woman who serves as director of education for Indy Pride. “That doesn’t mean that then we should disqualify those kids.”
Walters said she believes the bill would have a harmful impact if it becomes law.
“These are kids that are just trying to live their lives,” Walters said. “They’re just trying to be themselves and do the things that their friends are doing.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is also against the proposal.
“To categorically ban trans people essentially from participating in school sports according to their gender is unconstitutional on its face,” said Kit Malone, ACLU advocacy strategist.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association is neutral on the bill, said commissioner Paul Neidig. That’s because the association has had a policy in place for over a decade that allows transgender athletes to apply to the IHSAA for eligibility to compete, he added.
“We’ve had communications with the authors of this bill, and we’re always open to dialogue, and I’m sure we’ll continue to have more dialogue,” Neidig said.
The House education committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill at its next meeting Monday morning.