House Republicans are planning to launch a second legislative effort to bar transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams, cementing the issue as a priority for the GOP ahead of 2024.
The proposed “Save Women’s Sports Act” would require public K-12 schools and colleges to designate sports teams — including intramural and club teams — based on sex assigned at birth, rather than gender identity. The bill’s restrictions would also apply to private schools that receive federal financial assistance, according to a draft obtained by The Hill.
A second clause states that membership of athletic teams “designated only for females shall only be open to biological females at birth.” Schools that violate the provision risk losing access to all federal funding, according to the bill, which is set to be introduced next week by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.).
The congresswoman’s proposal is modeled after an identically titled law passed in Montana in 2021. A federal judge last year ruled the law’s restrictions on transgender college athletes unconstitutional, but allowed a provision barring transgender K-12 students from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity to remain in effect.
Similar bans have been implemented in at least two dozen states since 2020, according to the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBTQ legislation. Restrictions adopted by lawmakers in Idaho, Arizona, Utah and West Virginia, however, are temporarily blocked by court orders.
The House passed a separate bill to prevent transgender women and girls from competing on school sports teams in April.
Rep. Greg Stuebe’s (R-Fla.) “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” aims to restrict the participation of transgender athletes by amending Title IX — the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at federally funded schools — to recognize sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
The measure, which passed in a party-line 219-203 vote, has not been taken up by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. The White House in April warned that President Biden would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
McClain’s office did not immediately respond to questions about her bill, including whether she believes the proposal goes further than Stuebe’s. The congresswoman was not one of the measure’s 93 Republican co-sponsors.
Still, McClain, who has represented Michigan’s 9th Congressional District since 2021, is one of Congress’s most outspoken critics of transgender female athletes.
During a Dec. 5 House subcommittee hearing titled “The Importance of Protecting Female Athletics and Title IX,” McClain repeatedly referred to transgender women as “men” and claimed that allowing transgender athletes to participate in girls’ sports puts other student-athletes in danger and is “fundamentally unfair.”
“We are placing our daughters in danger every time they step onto the field,” she said. “This hearing is about protecting women, period.”
McClain during the nearly 3-hour hearing also alluded to her forthcoming bill, telling a panel of witnesses that transgender people can “be who [they] want to be, but the American people don’t have to fund it.”
McClain and other House Republicans lauded the testimony of Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who has traveled the country to testify in favor of legislation to bar transgender women and girls from female sports teams, restrooms and locker rooms.
Gaines, who accompanied McClain to Biden’s State of the Union address in February, tied with former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas — the first transgender woman to win a national Division I title — for fifth place at last year’s NCAA championships.
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