Indiana Looks to Become Tenth State to Restrict Transgender Girls in School Sports

An Indiana bill that would prohibit transgender women and girls from female school sports teams will be considered by the House education committee.

The proposal, House Bill 1041, bans those listed as biologically male at birth from participating in a female athletic team or sport. It would require grievance procedures for violations to be established at school corporations, public schools, certain private schools, state educational institutions, certain private colleges and universities, and certain athletic associations, according to the proposal.

The proposal also allows for civil action should someone violate the provisions and schools would not be subject to liabilities for complying with it.

Rep. Michelle Davis of Greenwood, who authored the bill, said in a statement to Newsweek that the bill resulted from "listening to the concerns of female student athletes and parents in my district and across the state." She said its purpose is "to protect fair competition in girls' sports."

"As a former Division I college athlete, I know the life lessons and opportunities competing in sports provided to me while growing up and as a young adult," Davis said in the statement. "This bill is aimed at protecting those same opportunities for Hoosier girls now and in the future."

The House education committee is scheduled to hear the bill January 24, committee chair Rep. Bob Behning of Indianapolis said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

Behning said the proposal "deserves discussion," AP reported. He noted that a "majority of House Republicans support the bill."

"It's just, how do we make sure that we're ... playing fairly in terms of athletics," Behning said, according to AP.

As a former Division I college athlete, I know the life lessons and opportunities competing in sports provided to me while growing up and as a young adult. This bill is aimed at protecting those same opportunities for Hoosier girls now and in the future."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana released a statement Thursday on their website in opposition to the bill. The statement says the bill singles out transgender kids by banning them from participating in sports, "sending them the message that they are not worthy of the same kinds of opportunities as their classmates."

"Transgender people have the right to participate in sports consistent with who they are, just like anyone else," the ACLU of Indiana says in the statement. "Denying this right is unconstitutional and blatant discrimination."

The ACLU of Indiana urges lawmakers to "stop these attacks" on transgender children, according to the statement.

Proposal, Transgender Athlete Ban, Indiana
The Indiana proposal banning transgender girls from female school sports teams would also allow for civil action should someone violate the provisions and schools would not be subject to liabilities for complying with it. In this photo is the Indiana state Capitol building in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sept. 30, 2012. Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs/Archives/Getty Images

If the bill were to pass, Indiana would become the 10th state to ban transgender athletes from school sports. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas all have laws prohibiting transgender athletes from school sports, according to The New York Times. However, federal judges have halted the laws in West Virginia and Idaho, AP reported. The U.S. Department of Justice has also challenged bans in other states.

Several other bills exist in the Indiana Legislature regarding limitations on transgender people. House Bill 1399 would prohibit people from changing the gender on their birth certificate and the permanent record made from it. House Bill 1348 would make it a misdemeanor for people to enter restrooms not aligning with the biological gender.

Senate Bill 402 would change Indiana law to say that identifying a child by their biological sex is not child abuse or neglect. There is also another bill authored by Davis, House Bill 1121, that would mandate health care professionals report certain information involving gender transitioning to the state health department, which would then compile the data annually into a report for the general assembly.

"Even introducing these bills, even bringing these bills up, and then contributing to that sense that trans people have, that their own communities are attacking them and trying to ostracize them, that has a very negative and frightening effect on youth," Kit Malone, an advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Indiana, said, according to The Indianapolis Star, "and we see it every year."

Update 01/21 9:44 PM: This story was updated to include a statement from Rep. Michelle Davis.