On Monday, Iowa House Republicans approved a bill that would stop transgender girls from participating in female sports, heading in a similar direction of about 10 other Republican-run state legislatures in passing the measure.
Opponents of the bill say it is state-sanctioned bullying of transgender children, but supporters say it is the only way to protect girls from being consistently dominated in sports competition by males identifying as females.
The Iowa Senate is currently facing its own slightly different version of the measure, but the legislative body has not yet voted on it. “We have to protect girls’ sports in our schools,” said Rep. Skyler Wheeler, an Orange City Republican. “This bill is not about discrimination; this bill is about protection. Girls should not be sidelined in their own sports.”
But Democratic Rep. Mary Mascher of Iowa City said preventing transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ or women’s sports is a clearly discriminatory practice. “This bill sends a terrible message to our young people and all transgender girls and women in this state. It is state sanctioned bullying,” Mascher said.
The bill passed along party lines 55-39 and requires students who are participating in interscholastic sports that are sponsored or sanctioned by an accredited nonpublic school or public school district to participate only with those who match the gender listed on their birth certificate. The bill also has provisions that allow civil lawsuits to uphold the intent of the law.
Last year, Gov. Kim Reynolds had lobbied lawmakers to pass a similar measure, although it failed to advance. Reynolds said at a press conference last week that she continues to be in support of the idea.
“I believe it’s a fairness issue. If we don’t do anything it does eliminate girls’ sports,” the governor commented. States with similar laws include Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, Texas, Tennessee, and South Dakota, all of which were passed last year.