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Bills that ban transgender athletes seeing mixed results
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Bills that ban transgender athletes seeing mixed results

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A different type of scoreboard watching took place in the high school sports world during the past month.

And it’s one of those not-so-fun types of scoreboard watching that usually occurs when politicians get involved in athletics.

What important issues are state legislatures devoting their time and efforts to across the country?

With the recent uptick in the number of mass shootings, maybe discussing laws that would help prevent these tragedies would be worth an effort.

But a quick scan shows that, no, most bills considered this year would loosen gun laws, not strengthen them or address mental health issues.

How about the continued financial impact of the pandemic upon states?

Sure, there are those issues that vary from state to state.

But the one pressing issue across America seems to be — transgender athletes in girls sports?

Any topic that generates bills in approximately 35 out of the 50 states must be an important topic that must be addressed immediately.

And there seems to be daily updates on these bills.

North Dakota’s bill gets vetoed by Gov. Doug Burgum.

Florida’s bill is suddenly and surprisingly dead.

Kansas gets a veto by Gov. Laura Kelly.

Alabama’s bill is signed by Gov. Kay Ivey.

Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi all passed bills in March.

But ... why now?

Between 2017 and 2019 a pair of transgender sprinters won several girls state track and field titles in Connecticut, resulting in lawsuits that claimed that cisgender girls weren’t given an equal chance to succeed.

But other than that highly publicized case, it’s hard to find any other instances of transgender athletes having an impact on the outcome of high school sports, let alone participating at all.

In March, Associated Press reporters contacted two dozen state legislators who were sponsoring bills to ban transgender girls from high school athletics. Those who responded couldn’t cite any examples of transgender athletes even competing in their state.

Proponents of these types of bills often say they are needed to be proactive to ensure that competition remains fair for athletes in the future.

Opponents feel that these bills are part of a national effort to marginalize transgender people.

The bill in Florida made plenty of news and led to a big spotlight being brought on issues with these bills.

According to the Miami Herald, “The House bill stipulated that institutions had to resolve complaints about a student’s sex with a health examination from a health care provider. The student could prove their sex one of three ways: with a DNA test; with a testosterone test or with medical professional examining the student’s ‘reproductive anatomy.’”

If that last part doesn’t give you pause ...

And exactly who is allowed to make these “complaints”? A less-than-ethical opposing coach, administrator or parent the week of a big postseason contest?

The transgender bill in Montana makes me wonder how sincere those politicians are who are bringing this up as a major issue facing high school athletes in their states.

According to the Associated Press, “The Montana House and Senate approved the bill largely along party lines, after it was amended to become void if the federal government withholds education funding from the state over gender discrimination and an appeal by the state fails.”

When you can name the price tag at which an issue suddenly isn’t important enough to address with a bill, maybe we shouldn’t be scoreboard watching on that issue at all.

Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent. Once a week he wanders away from the sports department to offer his take on non-sports related topics. Email him at dale.miller@theindependent.com

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