In a midnight legislative session, Georgia Republicans snuck a possible anti-transgender sports ban into a bill against so-called critical race theory (CRT).
The legislation was “shoved through in the closing minutes of the session without a full explanation” and was “so rushed that some lawmakers may not have known what they were doing,” according to local news station WXGA.
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The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who is expected to sign it.
The bill will ban the teaching of nine “divisive (CRT) concepts” including that the United States of America is fundamentally racist and that members of any race should feel “anguish, guilt, or any other form of psychological distress… for actions committed in the past by other individuals of the same race.”
The bill would also allow the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), the state’s high school athletics governing body, to decide whether to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams matching their gender identities.
While it’s unclear how the GHSA might eventually decide on the issue, Republican state House Speaker David Ralston denied that the bill banned trans youth from playing sports outright. However, Democrats disagree.
“This bill targets the most vulnerable Georgians, transgender youth,” said gay Democratic state Representative Matthew Wilson. “It sets us up not only to be on the wrong side of history and morality, but on the wrong end of litigation.”
Democratic House Leader James Beverly said the bill would “target trans kids, to ban kids from playing sports, and to attack teachers at the same time,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The bill passed the statehouse in a 98-71 vote and the Senate in a 32-21 vote along party lines. Kemp will likely sign the bill as he’s facing a contentious primary for re-election.
Kemp will face five Republican challengers — including David Perdue, the failed 2020 U.S. Senate candidate who is now backed by Donald Trump — as Trump and other Republicans criticized Kemp for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The bill resembles similar bans on teaching the history of racism in the U.S. passed by 15 other states and trans athletic bans passed by 14 other states. As of 2021, 42 U.S. states introduced legislation banning racism history lessons from classrooms and 37 states have introduced trans sports bans.