Save Women’s Sports Act would essentially ban trans athletes from sports in Louisiana

Lawmakers to debate bill that would keep most transgender students from competing in women's high school, college sports

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Transgender athletes would essentially not be allowed to compete in high school or college sports in Louisiana under a bill filed by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, ahead of the 2020 Regular Legislative Session.

Athletes assigned the male sex at birth would only be able to compete against other male athletes, even if they’ve had a sex change or are transitioning.

If a student’s sex is disputed, the ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ would allow them to establish “biological sex” with a doctor’s note that "verifies sex based solely upon the student’s internal and external reproductive anatomy, the student’s normal endogenously produced levels of testosterone, and an analysis of the student’s genetic makeup.”

“For us, it goes beyond that distinct advantage,” Louisiana Family Forum head Gene Mills said. “It’s got to do with the gains that have been made with Title IX in collegiate sports and the effort that’s been undertaken to protect women and their rights in competitive sports. (Trans students competing) basically dismantles Title IX.”

The Senate Bill 172 also contains a series of statements that the legislature would endorse with its approval, including that the sex characteristics which develop during puberty “most important for success in sport” are generally stronger in men.

“The evidence is unequivocal that starting in puberty, in every sport except sailing, shooting, and riding, there will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would prevail over the best girls and women in head-to-head competition,” the bill reads and the legislature would declare with final approval. “Claims to the contrary are simply a denial of science.”

“It sends a very strong and very negative signal to, first of all, to trans kids - of whom there are plenty in our schools right now - just trying to make it through middle and high school and they’re not welcome to participate in the regular activities that every other student gets to participate in,” Louisiana Trans Advocates president Dylan Waguespack said.

The measure would not prevent schools from establishing coed sports teams, as long as its creation does not disband or replace a women’s team. It also establishes legal protections for coaches or administrators who, in compliance with the proposed law, refuse to allow trans athletes to compete.

In addition, a female student who “is deprived or an athletic opportunity” or suffers direct or indirect harm from a violation of the proposed law could sue for damages, as long as the suit is filed within two years of the violation.

“Having separate sex-specific teams furthers efforts to promote sex equality,” the bill reads and the legislature would declare with its approval. “Sex-specific teams accomplish this by providing opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their skill, strength, and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition, accolades, scholarships, better physical and mental health, and the numerous other long-term benefits that flow from success in athletic endeavors.”

Mizell has been the chair of the Louisiana legislative women’s caucus. The 2020 Regular Legislative Session begins March 9.

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