House Republicans just got closer to passing two anti-LGBTQ+ bills

The Capitol building
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Two bills that attack LGBTQ+ equality advanced in their respective House committees yesterday. One bill would ban transgender women from participating in the Olympics or in sports associated with the Olympics, while the other would force colleges and universities to recognize student organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ+ students.

The first bill, the “Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act,” would ban trans women from participating in any team recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which includes numerous amateur sports. The bill would ban private organizations from setting their own rules for participation, and its sponsors have specifically cited USA Boxing’s new and highly restrictive policy on trans women’s participation.

Sports organizations that don’t ban trans women would lose their official recognition by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill in a 16-15 vote. It now goes to the House floor.

The other bill, the “Equal Campus Access Act,” which is attached to the “Respecting the First Amendment on Campus Act,” was passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce with a 24-14 vote. The bill would require colleges and universities that receive federal funds—almost all of them—to allow religious organizations recognized by the school to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students.

Some colleges have denied official recognition to campus groups that refuse to let certain classes of students join, including those that ban LGBTQ+ students. Republicans have long deemed this a form of religious discrimination, arguing that not recognizing—and therefore not funding—such organizations is denying religious students the ability to practice their religions.

If the bill passes, failing to recognize anti-LGBTQ+ student groups would put the college or university’s federal funding at risk.

House Democrats spoke out against the bills.

“H.R. 7181 is a hate bill. Period,” said out Rep. Becca Balint (D-VT) in a release from the Congressional Equality Caucus. “Time and time again, Republicans hide behind promoting women and girls in sports. But these continued attacks have real consequences. The countless anti-LGBTQIA+ attacks from Republicans only stand to incite violence and ultimately remove trans people from public life. But I want trans girls and women to know: you deserve to participate and thrive in the sports you love.”

“This cruel, discriminatory legislation is nothing more than an attempt to score cheap political points at the expense of transgender Americans,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Congressional Equality Cacus’s Transgender Equality Task Force. “This bill tells some of our country’s most vulnerable individuals that they do not belong and targets a group that experiences disproportionately high rates of discrimination and harassment.”

The Congressional Equality Caucus also called out the university bill, saying that it would force “LGBTQI+ students to fund their own discrimination on campus.”

“Forcing LGBTQI+ students to fund on-campus groups that are actively discriminating against them is insulting,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), the chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, in a statement. “Student organizations are an important part of every student’s college experience; everyone should be free to participate without fear of discrimination. Making public universities choose between their federal funding and protecting LGBTQI+ and other minority students from discrimination is cruel.”

While the bills may pass the Republican House, they will face an uphill battle in the Democratic Senate.

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