Montana, North Dakota Bills Target Transgender Athletes

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 15, 2021

Montana, North Dakota Bills Target Transgender Athletes
  (Source:EDGE Media Library)

Lawmakers in North Dakota and Montana are considering bills that specifically target transgender student athletes, the New York Daily News reports.

In North Dakota, House Bill 1298 stipulates that students would only be able to "participate on an athletic team sponsored or funded by the state" according to their "sex assigned at birth." Furthermore, the bill also mandates that "the state, a political subdivision of the state, or an entity that receives public funding from the state or from a political subdivision of the state" can only sponsor events in which participating athletes' gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth. Texas, Alabama, North Carolina and Kentucky have laws similar to HB1298.

The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition said in a statement that "this bill intentionally excludes transgender and intersex youth from sports. ND legislators should not be passing blanketed policies that discriminate."

Brandi Hardy, the organization's legislative director, added that "sports are those opportunities where kids are able to learn the meaning of teamwork and selflessness and discipline, and when we're taking those opportunities away from a certain group or population of students, then we are then encouraging them not to participate.

"But we're also telling them that they're not worthy to be participating in other opportunities where life lessons are learned."

Democrat Joshua Boschee, who serves as the North Dakota House minority leader, commented on Twitter: "Unfortunately, the legislative attack on transgender youth in North Dakota is starting. We've been fortunate to avoid this type of legislation in the past, but this is what Republican legislators consider a priority."

In Montana, House Bill 112 takes aim at student athletes in public elementary schools, high schools, and colleges. HB112 will be heard before the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol on Monday, according to the bill's sponsor John Fuller — a Republican. Fuller claims that he is "[saving] women's sports," even if the bill flies in the faces of NCAA policies calling for colleges and universities to allow transgender athletes to compete.

Fuller concedes that "the reality is that we're not going to be dealing with a lot of massive numbers of transgender sports," before asserting without any supporting evidence that "the injustice of young women being denied athletic opportunity is enough to warrant such a bill."

Another Fuller-proposed bill, HB113, sees to prevent minors receiving healthcare related to gender transitioning. However, the hearing for HB113 appears to be cancelled, at least for the time being.

On Twitter, the ACLU of Montana said, "anti-trans politicians are once again attacking trans youth in Montana. Bills have been introduced that would ban medical care for trans youth and ban trans students from participating in school sports. Hearings on these bills may happen as soon as next week."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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