Bill banning transgender girls from school sports teams headed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk

By: - June 22, 2023 4:47 pm
a demonstrator waves a flag that reads "HANDS OFF TEANS YOUTH"

Photo: Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator

A bill banning transgender girls from playing on the school sports teams that align with their gender identity has been approved by the House on a 62-43 vote and is heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

Cooper, a Democrat, is expected to veto the bill, which has been roundly criticized by his Democrats and state progressives, who contend its unfair and unkind to trans girls and women.

House Bill 574 would prohibit transgender girls from competing in girls’ middle school, high school and college sports. They could, however, compete on intramural colleges sports teams. And trans boys could compete on male teams.       

Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, a nonprofit that fights for LGBTQ rights and protection, said the legislation is “dangerous and cruel.”

“Playing sports has been shown to benefit LGBTQ+ youth mental health. Inclusive school policies lower suicide risk and increase feelings of safety at school for LGBTQ students,” Johnson said. “This bill makes all of our schools less safe for trans youth.”

Despite Cooper’s expected veto, HB 574 is expected to become law. The Republican-led General Assembly has veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Rep. Michael Wray, a Northampton County Democrat, crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans.

The Associated Press reported that several Democrats argued Thursday during the House session that the bill unfairly singles out a small number of students. Two trans girls had been approved by the NC High School Athletic Association to play sport this year, the AP reported.

“We’re sending a very strong message to a very vulnerable group of young people that says you are different, you’re not allowed to participate,” said Rep. Deb Butler, a New Hanover County Democrat. “It’s cruel.”

Meanwhile, bill supporters contend that it  protects cisgender females from bigger, faster and stronger trans athletes. Last week, former UNC Chapel Hill women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell urged lawmakers to support the bill to preserve college scholarships for cisgender females.

“If you want to win and another team has a transgender and that person is dominating, what are you going to do?” Hatchell asked. “You want to keep your job — you’re going to recruit a transgender.”

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has also stated support for restricting trans girls from participating against cisgender females.

“As a mom to daughters who are currently both college and high school athletes that have won the indoor #NorthCarolina pole vault championship and hold several 4A track and field records, this has been difficult to watch unfold,” Truitt wrote on Facebook in response to Lia Thomas’ domination of the NCAA women’s swimming competition in 2022.

Thomas is a trans woman.

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.