For The Record

State Senate panel advances bill to ban transgender athletes from girls’ school sports

By: - February 9, 2022 7:53 pm

A state Senate committee approved a bill to bar transgender girls from playing girls’ sports in school. Pixabay

A bill that would bar transgender athletes from playing on girls’ sports teams passed a Senate committee Wednesday and could head to the Senate for a full vote.

If it passes both chambers and is signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, students at public schools and at private schools with teams that compete against public schools will only be allowed to play on the team of the gender on their birth certificate.

Similar measures were not successful last year, but the governor indicated he wants to see legislation on his desk this year.

The bill’s author, Tyrone Republican Sen. Marty Harbin, said it is about fairness.

“It simply is not (fair) to force biological girls to compete against biological boys, and it’s certainly not fair to expect young women to endure the immense social pressure against them if they speak up for themselves,” he said.

Harbin said transgender girls have greater strength and speed than their cisgender teammates, giving them an unfair advantage, but could not provide an example of such a case in Georgia.

“I have only some emails from people when I started this last year where there was a boy on a team, where the daughter said ‘I do not want to play with him because of the size difference,’” Harbin said. “I have not seen one in that area, but we have seen it in other states, that it’s already started. So I’ve seen that more than anything else, but I’ve had emails from two different constituents that said here’s what happened in our case.”

About a dozen people spoke out against the measure, calling it unnecessary, cruel and possibly illegal.

“More than two in three LGBTQ students in Georgia reported experiencing at least one form of anti-LGBT discrimination incident at school in the past year,” said regional policy community engagement director for the Intercultural Development Research Association Terrence Wilson. “And these policies have real life or death consequences for students, as tragically 42% of LGBTQ youth consider attempting suicide, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth, so the impact on transgender and non binary youth is evident.”

Coco Papy, public policy director for the Savannah-based Deep Center, said the bill could open the state up to costly lawsuits.

“It would be prudent for us to look at states that have chosen to pass these types of laws, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of them are currently facing multiple lawsuits and all of them will see court challenges,” she said. “Court challenges cost the state money, which costs taxpayers. There are far too many issues pressing young people and their parents right now. This is not one of them.”

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is expected to hear a lawsuit this year involving a Florida law barring transgender students from restrooms matching their gender identity. The case, which will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court whatever the outcome at the 11th Circuit, could set a precedent for how federal law protects transgender students, including whether Georgia’s proposed law would meet legal muster.

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Ross Williams
Ross Williams

Before joining the Georgia Recorder, Ross Williams covered local and state government for the Marietta Daily Journal. His work earned recognition from the Georgia Associated Press Media Editors and the Georgia Press Association, including beat reporting, business writing and non-deadline reporting.