News (USA)

Georgia’s high school sports association bans trans kids from playing school sports

A women's sports team wearing red jerseys in a huddle
Photo: Shutterstock

The athletic association that oversees Georgia high school sports has unanimously voted to ban transgender youth from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identities.

The vote, conducted by the executive committee of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) on Wednesday, will require students to play on teams matching the sex listed on their birth certificates. The requirement will go into effect at the start of fall 2022.

Related: DOJ expands probe into anti-LGBTQ prison violence in Georgia after 44 murders in the past year

For the last six years, the GSHA allowed individual schools and school boards to decide which teams transgender students could play on, the AP reported. However, now GHSA’s recent vote will revert its policy to what it was before 2016, GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines told the aforementioned media outlet.

The GSHA conducted its vote barely a month after state Republicans passed a bill authorizing the association to pass a trans sports ban. The legislation was reportedly “shoved through in the closing minutes of the [state’s legislative] session without a full explanation” and was “so rushed that some lawmakers may not have known what they were doing.”

When pushing the bill, Republican state House Speaker David Ralston denied that it would ban trans youth from playing sports outright. The bill seemed to call for the GHSA to establish a committee to study the issue. But instead, the GHSA just quickly voted on the issue without additional research.

GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines said that the GHSA is unclear how many trans athletes are actually competing in school sports within the state, since the GHSA doesn’t keep such records.

Jeff Graham, executive director of the state LGBTQ advocacy group Georgia Equality, criticized GHSA for quickly passing the ban.

“Their actions, to move so hastily and without consideration of the harms that this will do, without actually researching the complexities and nuances of this issue, will ultimately hurt kids throughout Georgia,” Graham said.

He said that the GHSA’s decision will overturn past decisions by school boards and districts to let trans kids play on teams matching their gender identities. The GHSA’s decision could also violate Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools, as well as federal court rulings and Democratic President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

At least 12 Republican-led states have passed similar trans sports bans. Approximately 24 other states are considering similar legislation.

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