News (USA)

Montana advances bill to ban transgender girls from competing in school sports

girls playing basketball
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Montana legislators have advanced a bill to ban transgender girls from school sports through the state’s House Judiciary Committee.

The proposed legislation would require that elementary, high school, college and private schools that compete against a public school all reject the student athletes.

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“It is unconscionable that Montana lawmakers are focused on restricting transgender and nonbinary youth’s ability to play school sports in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and economic turmoil. Transgender students, like all students, deserve the chance to learn teamwork and to build self-esteem and a sense of belonging with their peers through sports,” said Sam Brinton, vice president of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

The group runs the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

The bill will now to go the full House for a vote.

“At The Trevor Project, we constantly hear from transgender and nonbinary youth in crisis who want nothing more than to be recognized for who they are — and we know based on our research that respecting and affirming a young person’s gender identity is essential to their mental health and well-being. This discriminatory policy would only work to increase the kind of social isolation and stigma that contributes to self-harm and suicide risk. We urge the Montana House to reject this cruel and unnecessary bill, and to instead focus on expanding opportunity and support for Montana’s trans youth during this difficult time.”

The legislature is also considering a bill that would prohibit medical professionals from providing best-practice medical care to transgender youth.

H.B. 112, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” is “a carbon copy of Idaho’s HB 500” according to Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s LGBT & HIV Project. Idaho’s law is a similarly-named ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ proposal that passed, but is currently blocked from being enacted by a federal court’s injunction.

Like the Idaho law, the proposal calls for “public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex” and would allow for cisgender athletes to seek damages from schools that allow trans students to compete as their gender identity, due to the “direct or indirect” harm that would purportedly cause.

This would go against the policy of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which calls for colleges and universities to allow trans students to compete in sports as the gender consistent with their identity.

The NCAA considered moving its collegiate sporting events outside of Idaho after it passed H.B. 500, potentially costing The Gem State tens of millions of dollars if the law’s not repealed. The NCAA reportedly “agreed to continue to monitor” the situation as it moves through the legal system.

H.B. 113, known as the “Youth Health Protection Act,” calls for a ban on “certain medications and medical procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors.” If passed, it would outlaw “any form of pressure” on youth to “undergo irreversible medical procedures to change sex.”

That means a health care provider could be required to pay a civil penalty of up to $50,000 if they provide any hormonal treatment, gender-affirming surgery, or “puberty-suppressing drugs.”

“It would immediately jeopardize trans lives,” Strangio said in a string of tweets. Strangio also said that this signals a trend, as they “expect we will soon see at least 15 states attempting” to pass something similar to H.B. 113.

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