Iowa recently became the first state to pass legislation that prohibits transgender athletes from participating on high school and collegiate levels. This is an issue of civil rights, as well as one rooted in religious fervor. Experts say this law may be a precursor for more states that consider making similar bans, but it also highlights how important trans rights are becoming in mainstream politics.,
Iowa governor signs law prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in sports on high school, collegiate levels.
THE CITY OF DES MOINES, IOWA — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ high school sports and women’s college athletics into law on Thursday, dismissing critics’ claims that she was harming vulnerable youngsters to tackle a nonexistent issue.
Just a day after legislators handed the bill to her desk, Reynolds signed it in a Capitol ceremony. Only Republicans voted for it in the House and Senate.
The signing, according to the Republican governor, was a triumph for girls’ sports.
“No amount of skill, training, or effort will compensate for men’ innate physical advantages over females,” Reynolds said emphatically. “It’s just a fact of life for humans. Females being forced to compete against guys is the polar opposite of inclusion, and it is completely unjust.”
When a reporter asked Reynolds for an example of a female who was surpassed by a transgender athlete, the governor declined to provide one, but insisted that the limits were necessary.
Ainsley Erzen, a Carlisle High School senior who holds the state 800-meter track record and has spoken in favour of the measure, said the legislation would safeguard female athletes.
“Today’s Iowa girls, and future generations, will be free to follow their passions to the best of their ability,” Erzen added. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re seeking championships, records, scholarships, or a starting spot on a team. No female will be left out of their sport.”
Because Republican leaders made the measure instantly effective, any transgender children participating in sports may be asked to quit doing so. It’s unclear how many pupils will be affected, although it’s thought to be a small number in Iowa.
“Because the bill will take effect as soon as the governor signs it, she is once again demonstrating that she is more concerned with gaining political points than with the effects of legislation on some of our society’s most disenfranchised children,” said Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls.
The law mandates that children engaging in interscholastic sports sponsored or sanctioned by a recognized nonpublic school or a public school district play with only other students who are the same gender as their birth certificate. It also includes measures that enable civil litigation to enforce the law’s objective. The legislation covers sports from elementary school through state institutions and colleges.
The bill, according to lobbyists for school boards, administrators, and teachers, puts educators and administrators in an impossible position of having to choose between either the new state legislation or the federal statute against gender discrimination in sports activities.
Phil Roeder, a spokesman for the Des Moines Public Classrooms, said it’s unclear how the rule would be implemented in schools right now. The bill was opposed by the district’s lobbyist because the district feels it discriminates against transgender girls and women and that it violates federal anti-discrimination rules.
“Our school system embraces and supports LGBTQ children, giving them the opportunity they deserve,” he added.
Heather Doe, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Education, said that the department has not issued any advice to schools, although she did recognize that the law took effect immediately.
The statute, according to Mark Stringer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, “violates the civil rights of transgender girls and women in Iowa.”
Stringer stated, “Today, the state of Iowa bought into unfounded beliefs about transgender girls and women engaging in sports — misconceptions fuelled by ignorance and fear.”
Iowa will join ten other Republican-controlled states in enacting similar legislation. Court challenges have been filed against several of them, citing infringement of constitutional rights and federal anti-discrimination legislation.
The independent Legislative Services Agency warned legislators that if federal civil rights rules are broken, the state might forfeit federal subsidies. The law may also contradict with the participation regulations of university, college, and junior college sports organizations, resulting in the loss of eligibility, media rights, and competition-hosting earnings, according to the agency. The law might potentially cost the state money in legal fees.
As Reynolds spoke and signed the bill, Becky Smith, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, waved a transgender flag behind legislators and girls from multiple schools. When transgender children realize they have a federal right to protection under the statute, Smith predicts “a massive avalanche of litigation against various school systems around the state.”
In February, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a similar restriction into law.
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas are among the states that have approved similar legislation in the recent year. A federal court determined that a 2020 Idaho legislation is likely to be deemed unconstitutional, putting enforcement on hold.
Last July, a judge in West Virginia issued an order allowing an 11-year-old transgender girl to compete in girls’ cross country, claiming that the state’s law passed the year before would have violated her constitutional rights as well as a federal law guaranteeing equal treatment of men and women in education and sports programs.
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