The Virginia House of Delegates advanced a bill on Monday that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in women’s sports at any level in Virginia schools.
“The purpose of House Bill 1837 is to protect our girls and young women from being forced to compete against biological males,” Delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach) said. “Similarly gifted and trained males will always have the physical advantage over females, which is the reason we have women’s sports.”
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted along party lines to move House Bill 1387 to the full education committee. The controversial bill, patroned by Greenhalgh, would ban transgender women and girls from competing on any “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic team” at any school or college in the state.
“Even the strongest, fastest girls in Virginia must step up to the starting line and know, ‘I can’t win,'” said Greenhalgh. “Their goals are gone, their chance at winning and recognition and scholarship, it’s just not fair for women to lose these opportunities.”
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The legislation would require transgender athletes in the commonwealth to compete in sports aligned with their biological sex. If passed, the law would apply to all athletes from kindergarten through 12th grade, at public colleges and universities, as well as intercollegiate, interscholastic and club sports.
Under current Virginia High School League (VHSL) regulations, transgender athletes wishing to have their identity recognized for competition must provide documentation of their transition, including lists of medication taken. The decision is then left to a VHSL district committee to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Since these rules were enacted in 2014, 28 transgender students have applied and 25 have been granted the right to play on teams aligning with their gender identities.
Republicans currently control the Virginia House of Delegates by a 51-47 margin; however, Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, making the bill’s fate beyond the Virginia house uncertain.
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On his first day in office, Biden issued an executive order saying students should play on sports teams based on their gender identity. Since the president’s decisive stance on transgender athletes, an onslaught of bills have emerged from over two dozen states.
In 2021, lawmakers in at least 24 states proposed similar legislation to ensure participation in women’s sports is based on female biology, not gender identity.
Federal legislation in 2021 was also introduced in the House and Senate. The “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” (H.R. 426, S. 251) states that schools that allow “biological males” to compete in girls athletics could lose federal funding.
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“Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga. stated, referring to the section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. “As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities, this commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”
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